This the final installment of a three part series that began Wednesday and continued yesterday.
“There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them.”
Tom Krause --- motivational speaker
Failure is a state of mind. Some of us may allow an outcome that we have designated as failure to shape our lives and define who we are. Our failure may make us afraid to move forward in our lives or even give up. True failure is that which makes us stop trying.
On October 10, 1988 a concert event for which I thought I had thoroughly planned and in which I had invested several thousand dollars did not turn out as I had expected. It was not a time for remorse--what was done was done. I analyzed the "what ifs" of everything that led up to that concert and pondered many what ifs of my future. It soon became clear to me what I had done wrong. For one thing I had become too greedy and that greed had made me reckless.
In July of that same year I had finished up a road tour with the theater company I had managed for nearly ten years. Each year the tours had gotten shorter and the show dates had gotten fewer. My wife and I had two kids and the oldest was now of school age. We decided that this was the time to quit the gypsy life and settle down. We would use Maryville, Tennessee as our home base and start an entertainment promotion business. We had plenty of experience and contacts. We also had a dream that was too big.
As soon as we got back to Tennessee we started setting up operations. I put together four simultaneous projects, which as it turns out was a big mistake as we were lacking focus. I thought I had everything under control and that soon we would be raking in huge sums of money. We began closing our Canadian bank account and various U.S. accounts and having all of the money transferred to our new business account. Years of savings--thousands of dollars--were invested in our new projects. If we had set smaller goals we probably would have slowly built a credible business, but we wanted everything to come quickly and all at once.
After the concert was over we were left with savings depleted and a debt that was starting to mount. The other business ventures that we had going at the same time were also not reaping the fortunes we expected and we were unable to adequately keep them going successfully. One by one, each venture concluded with no profit. Without any operating capital or incoming cash I was forced to find a job to pay the bills and my wife had two kids to take care of and another on the way. The entertainment business languished as I worked my regular jobs for a guaranteed income.
In 1991 I was approached by the company that owned the road show and offered a short tour and then a position of manager of a costume distribution business that they owned in Los Angeles. My wife and I carefully considered all of the options and finally concluded that this would be a good way to start over. I accepted the offer and in July we made our move. The new life looked like it was going to be very good.
Then an unexpected jolt came into my life. Less than a year after we had made our move my wife left me with my daughters. I never saw it coming and still don't really understand it. All I know is that I was left to take care of daughters ranging in age from ten to three years old. I somehow managed to keep going. I struggled with depression, but was mostly too busy to be sad--but often I was sad. My marital breakup was not a failure, but just a sad event in my life that now I had to move away from.
In October of 1992 I set up a new account for a customer at my business who had a store by the name of Madd. The store was a sort of eclectic second hand store in Long Beach. Since the store had just opened, the owner decided that she wanted to have a grand opening party. She invited me and I accepted.
I got a baby-sitter for my daughters on the night of the grand opening party and drove to the party at Madd. The store was very small and there were so many people there that many of us were on the sidewalk in front of the store. Since it was October the store was decorated with a Halloween theme. There was a wide assortment of people in attendance. Many were arty looking types, some where goths dressed in black, others had tattoos and piercings--nearly everyone was younger than I and much different in appearance. I looked around for someone with whom I could feel comfortable starting a conversation.
I noticed a quiet conservative looking man who looked closer to my age standing on the curb and struck up a conversation with him. At that time I had a tendency to direct conversations to the topic of the situation that I had been experiencing with my divorce and the sadness I had felt. This man was a good listener and kept up his end of the conversation.
Eventually I asked what he did and he told me he was in a band. My interest in music being what it was, I probed for more information. He said that he was in a small Christian band that he was sure I had never heard of. Now my interest was really piqued and I pressed on with my inquiry. He told me he played saxophone in a band called The Choir.
I was stunned. The Choir was among my favorite groups. I had listened to them for years and owned all their recordings. The man's name was Dan Michaels. Now I didn't really care about talking about my problems and wanted to ask him questions about the music business. He seemed pleased that I knew who he was and was more than happy to continue to indulge my conversation.
Then at one point Dan directed my attention to another man and led me over to introduce me to him. This man was Gene Eugene, another artist whose work I had followed for years and owned recordings by. Gene Eugene was a musical genius who wrote songs and performed as a singer and musician. He also owned a recording studio and had produced some of the finest albums by some of the top Christian rock bands. Now I was really floored. We chatted briefly, but it was getting late and I had to get home to my girls.
I wish I could have visited with these musicians for hours. And for all I know the guys who Gene was talking to may have been other musicians from other bands that I liked. I'll never know. Gene Eugene died in 2000 leaving a tremendous void in the Christian music scene. The funky jazz rock albums of Gene Eugene and his group Adam Again are well worth checking out, as are all the various other projects with which he was affiliated. Likewise, the ethereal soft rock of The Choir is exceptional music well worth a listen.
That night as I drove home from the party at Madd, I was glad that I had gone and excited about having met Gene and the exceptionally friendly Dan Michaels. But I needed to get back home to my daughters. If there was one thing that I really wanted to be successful at it was being a daddy. The years have been good and I think I did okay.
Are you familiar with the music of The Choir or Gene Eugene (Adam Again)? What is your philosophy of failure and success? Have you had a time in your life when you felt like a failure? How did you come back from that feeling? Right now in your life are you failing or succeeding?
Gene Eugene: I wrote about him in a post of October 9, 2009