"Even when you fail, you're learning how to win. Every loss is a win. Through trial and error, I have been able to accomplish what I've accomplished so far."
- Rasheed Stephens, Actor/Comedian/Director/Writer/Producer
When we had our first podcast interview with multi-hyphenate, Rasheed Stephens, he was emphatic in his belief that, to realize our true potential, we have to look inwards first. Through his own journey moving from Atlanta to LA to pursue a career in entertainment, he has become all too familiar with the obstacles that stand in our way as creatives. Rasheed has been passed over for countless acting gigs, he has told jokes to nearly laugh-less crowds, and he has lived in his car with no more than pennies to his name, but he has never let the limits in his life limit his potential.
Sylvester Stallone was once quoted as saying "Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure." This is exactly the point that Rasheed is making as he turns each failure into a lesson that he then uses to learn how to win. This is sage advice for the filmmaker who is bound to be confronted with obstacles like rejection, a lack of resources, and the influence of those who don't have their best interests at heart. The obstacles will always be there in some shape of form and failure will always be a part of the creative journey. The key is to control those failures by turning them into catalysts for our success.
Of course, we've all heard this type of positive affirmation before and yet, it can still be hard to see the silver lining in every cloud. The truth of the matter is that positivity isn't something that comes easy to all of us and charting a path forward from failure can seem like an impossible task. This is because many of us are not proactive in our attempts to deal with failure head on and don't take the steps needed to control it. Here are a couple of ways to get failure under control:
First, be careful how you talk to yourself about your failure. Self-deprecating language like "I'm just not good enough" or "I'll never make it" have no chance of moving you forward. Instead of wallowing in failure like a pig in proverbial shit, it's important to use positive self-affirmations like "I'll get 'em next time" or "Today just wasn't my day, but tomorrow just might be." Positive affirmations, especially when said out loud, help reaffirm your resolve to move forward and position you to take the next step.
Second, acknowledge the fact that you tried. There are many filmmakers out there who are paralyzed by their fear and don't take any action at all. The fact that you failed means that you actually tried. You actually tried to take your career to the next level and you were willing to take the risk of failure to make something of yourself. THAT is something to be proud of.
Third, understand that rebounding from your failure doesn't have to be a solo gig. There are people around you who are willing to help you get back up and give it another try. You'd be surprised that even those who reject you are willing to give you advice to help you on your way. The key thing to do is to find out what went wrong. Ask those who rejected you why they rejected you. Don't guess, ask. You can also play out scenarios with your friends and colleagues to seek their help in identifying what could have gone wrong. You just have to be open to their honest feedback. There are plenty of people out there willing to help you but you first have to be the one to take the first step.
Lastly, learn. Learn how positive affirmation eventually leads to positive outcomes. Learn that without risk there is no reward and that you have to be in the game to win it. Learn that, through the support and advice of others, you can overcome just about anything.
Rasheed went from living in his car to starring in, writing, producing, and directing several feature films that have gone on to get distribution. He's also been a featured comedian at comedy clubs throughout LA. With a positive mindset and a winning attitude, he continues his journey of trial and error that has proven to yield growing success. I'd like to thank him for sharing his insights with us on the MAKE IT podcast and I wish him all the best as he continues to learn how to win.
Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged.