As with most others in my class, it was expected that I would complete elementary school, middle school, high school and college. And so I did, along with a good deal of stressful moments spread throughout the years, especially when I wasn't really sure what I was doing. In essence, I often lacked confidence.
Fast forward to my college years and learning the guitar - a decision I made outside of a formal curriculum. At first, I didn't feel comfortable with so many of the basics: tuning the guitar, holding a pick, forming chords, knowing the notes of the guitar fretboard, playing multiple chords, strumming and singing at the same time, and the list went on and on! It would have been much easier to quit.
I played open mic nights where I completely forgot the chords to a song. Or the lyrics to a popular song (or even my own songs!). It's one thing to have this happen in the privacy of your own room, but quite another thing when your playing in front of a live audience.
I failed, yet I continued to play guitar, because I am passionate about it. I try to step back at these moments of failure and identify what I could do better next time. How can I improve? Because I love this instrument, it became easier to move past these issues. This feeling was so different than when I was in a formal school setting. I've persisted with the guitar for over 16 years because it feels great to play music and see progress. No report cards, no final exams, no peer pressure. Just me and my guitar. And every day I have an opportunity to get better, if only by a tiny amount.
There was a famous old Nike commercial featuring Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I loved what he said about failure:
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."When it comes to guitar, or anything else you are passionate about, don't worry about your failures. Learn from these experiences and use it as motivation to improve. Don't be afraid of failure!