Is failure real?
I mean seriously, is it even a thing?
By definition failure is:
One might argue that we’ve been brainwashed and trained since kindergarten and grade school. We are taught that a check mark is good and an X is poor. As we grow up, that check mark evolves into an A for outstanding work while an F is for failure.
I dropped out of college. Is that a result of failure?
My story is quite different. I knew what I wanted to be when I was in seventh grade. I knew that I wanted to be a musician. I was an “artistpreneur.”
Fortunately/unfortunately for me, I had parents that wanted me to be traditional. They were not behind my entrepreneurial-artist dreams early on when it came to backing me and helping me find all the resources possible to accelerate those dreams.
Well, I was raised with parents that were middle-class employee-minded thinkers. Although they had the financial means, like a poker player, they weren’t willing to go all-in with me. They wanted me to follow tradition and go the formal route because of what they were accustomed to. They didn’t know any other way to success. And please don’t get me wrong, my family doesn’t owe me anything, I’m not that entitled, but as a youngin’ I didn’t understand why they were the opposition to my vision.
They would give me the glory speeches like, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” When I told them I wanted to be a musician, they said, “not that.” Which instilled in me a hunger and a drive like no other.
I remember telling my father we would sell 100 CDs at launch with my new single and then being told it wouldn’t happen. We ended up selling 200 in a week. Following that stunt my senior year, we sold 1,209 tickets for a government P.I.G. project concert at Civic Hall, and still they didn’t believe. I couldn’t believe it. You would think they would have pushed me to go to Berkeley, if anything.
However, it was to go to school, get a degree, and get a job. Put this “artistpreneur” hobby down and get into the real world.
It wasn’t until we sold 333 tickets out of 3500 tickets—what I deemed as a failure and propelled my dropout—that it finally clicked for them. The irony. As the movie screen comes down from the auditorium, the lights darken, I appear in the audience standing in the spotlight in army fatigue camo with four dancers and all you hear is my mother and father going crazy. At that moment, they finally became fans. By that time, was it too late?
I wouldn’t change anything in my story because it’s been riddled with failure. And yet it’s also been filled with success. But what I’ve learned is that the failures far outnumber the successes. Failure. Such a harsh word. I challenge you, better yet I challenge us as a global economy, to start thinking completely different about education. About learning. About this so-called thing we call failure. We have to remember that the traditional school system is not designed to build creators and entrepreneurs, nor is it designed to build business owners.
It’s a system that is built to build employees.
Not right, wrong, or indifferent. This system is designed to get a degree and get a job. Keyword is designed to. And yet the funny thing is if you ask people that graduate high school and even those that graduate college if their education prepared them for the real world, 80% of them will say it did not. If you have your degree, let’s analyze and ask you too. Did you feel adequately prepared?
If you don’t have formal education, don’t feel bad, I don’t have a traditional education and I just spoke to the Horn Entrepreneurship program at the University of Delaware. Oh, and by the way, Richard Branson, Oprah, and Steve Jobs didn’t have a formal education either, so maybe we are in good company. Maybe. Who knows the right path?
But consider, if the graduates who enter the workforce and the employee-minded feel as though they got the short end of the stick becoming an employee, then what does that say for someone going the traditional route who’s an entrepreneurial thinker. A creator. What does that say for someone that is innovative and continues to think outside the box?
Tradition isn’t built for you.
Now let’s not get it twisted and take that out of context. I’m not saying that education is not important. I’m definitely not bashing the U.S. education system because at the end of the day, it is what it is. All I’m asking is for us to consider alternative options and rethink education, rethink failure. Some think that the school system will completely implode, while other parents—like my brother—are sending their children to traditional schooling. As my niece enters into her freshman year at University of Arizona, I can’t help but wonder if she is attending the right type of institution for her way of thinking? Can someone in traditional schooling fail? Absolutely! Drop out. Earn poor grades, etc.
However, although my GPA was 3.2 before I left Ball State University, had I not left I never would of gotten the opportunity to speak at UD.
If failure exists, I would argue that it’s in not trying. It’s in being lazy and not going after whatever you want in this world. If we’re not putting in the work, if we’re not giving it 110%, then yes there is definitely a such thing as failing in traditional and non-traditional school. However, if someone is giving it everything they’ve got, they’re doing extra training, they’re putting in extra hours, they’re studying with mentors and they still are not getting the grade or result that they what, the new questions we should be asking is… Is that failure? I’d say absolutely not.
It’s the journey of entrepreneurship.
Every person’s path is different. I am not a fortuneteller, so unfortunately, I cannot tell you what your path should be. What I can tell you is that I never would’ve imagined it would’ve taken me this long to get where I’m at, and I’m still not at the top of the mountain. But it lets me understand that the journey will be riddled with “failure.” Whether you go traditional or nontraditional. Not to mention debt.
The purpose of this article is to align your mind that there’s nothing wrong with failure as long as you continuously learn from it.
In college, we have internships for reason. To provide experience. Normally these programs are unpaid because you don’t know what you’re doing. You are learning. When you start in any entrepreneurial venture, you still need to go through that learning phase. The problem is that your so-called reality tells you that you failed when you made a mistake, when you go bankrupt or you lose a client, lose a teammate, get a bad grade. Whatever it is, just know this is not failure. This is learning. It’s only failure if you make the same mistake over and over again in the future. Or decide to give up.
It’s ya boy Cauveé [kaw-vay], Inspiration Engineer, and like I always say, remember that if you don’t build your dreams, you’ll build someone else’s.
I wish you all the love and success in the world. Until the next time we speak, BOOST!Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.