This is Why You Fail

by Craig McBreen · 34 comments · Breaking out, Creativity

I was just listening to an interview and the topic was on the incredible fallibility of humans.

How the pull of pleasure can lead to an individual’s downfall.

The discussion included such enlightening topics as heroin addiction. And how comfort seeking sometimes leads to various forms of addiction.

Fun stuff, right?

Then, I thought about the very thin line between “success” and “failure.”

Living comfortably in your own house versus surviving on the street.

Having a business boom or flop.

Letting the daily struggles of life “wash” over you or opening the door to pain and temporarily escaping through pleasure.

Choosing pleasure to avoid pain versus learning how to deal.

Having a pugnacious spirit and living or avoiding and slowly dying.

Such is life.

Of course there’s a middle, there always is. A happy medium with a not so perfect balance.

It’s a monster maintaining equilibrium. Seeking just enough pleasure and learning how to deal with pain, effectively. In life and in business.

Nothing is easy. Life is difficult enough. Building a successful business on top of that? That’s the motherload.

“Success” is completely subjective, but seeing any worthwhile venture come to fruition means dealing with pain (not ignoring it). Then making sure pleasure-seeking doesn’t dominate – whether it’s constantly dreaming up big things with no work to see them through, or getting distracted with practices that reward the lizard brain.

Keep rediscovering your inner-strength.

Don’t let the pain get to you and realize that pleasure often brings empty rewards.

Deal with your fears, daily.

Don’t lose focus of your big goals.

Enjoy that praise, that beer, those dopamine inducing minutes on social media.

BUT then, know when to STOP.

You’ll be happy. You will be depressed.

You will be pumped-up beyond belief, and then you’ll sink back down again.

You’ll be a creative monster one day, and stare blankly at the screen the next.

Such is life.

Our ship sails along, but the sea is just waiting to swallow us up. Don’t let it.

Avoiding TOUGH gets you nowhere, and the pro’s train never stops, I stole that from Mr. Pressfield.

You? You’re a pro, I know it.

What are you doing today to make “it” happen? If the answer is “nothing” it’s time to get busy.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Danny Brown January 31, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Fantastic thoughts, mate – it never ceases to amaze me how some people take “only having one car” as a failure, or “only having a deck and not a pool” a failure.

Every time we do something, it’s a success – because we learn from it. Burned your hand on the stove because you touched it? You won’t touch it again. Spluttered because you drank too quick? You’ll learn to slow down.

As long as we are learning, there’s no such thing as failure.

Cheers, sir!


Ralph January 31, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I failed to tell you Gini is pissed at you…..again. When are you going to learn? Hahahahaha……
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Danny Brown January 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm

What the deuce? What’s up with Her Grumpiness now?? :)


Ralph January 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Who knows. You know Gini, right?
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Craig McBreen January 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Oh, … she’s mad at Danny. You had me going for a second ;) And, what else is new? ;)


Craig McBreen January 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Hey Danny,

Indeed! I’m looking forward to further downsizing, less debt, and more reward through creativity and entrepreneurship. People get caught up with the wrong type of pleasure-seeking. Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with an occasional vacation to Cozumel, of course ;)


Ralph January 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Hi Craig.

Sigh. You are right, gosh-darn-it!

Maybe that’s why the term “Live and learn” has always been so popular. That and “Get off your lazy ass, you donkey.” No, wait. That’s no good.

I agree that success is subjective and that’s where a lot of the pain is needless. Right or wrong, I think that the folks that can’t get past that needless pain are the ones that spend their time masking it.
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Craig McBreen January 31, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Hi Ralph,

“Get off your lazy ass, you donkey” is a wee bit harsh, but that works for me ;)

Yep. needless pain comes in so many forms too. Play the observer of your own emotions, simplify, get uncomfortable … certain ways through “that” mess.

Good to see you, Sir.


Ryan Hanley January 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm


Over the last few months I’ve come to believe that failure is only failure if we look at it as failure…

…if we look at failure as an experiment that didn’t yield the results we expected.

Failure is just another day… another story on the road to Awesomeness.

Keep killin’ it my friend.

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Craig McBreen January 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Hey Ryan,

Yes, indeed. Some people beat themselves up and nothing is never good enough. We all fail, time and time again … but it’s what you do with the experience that makes the difference.

Love it and thank you, Sir!


Erin Feldman January 31, 2013 at 9:04 pm

What am I doing today? I’m trying my hardest to get my first client or writing gig.

As for failure, it’s a part of life. We wouldn’t get very far or have much to show for our efforts without some stretched muscles or bruised and scraped knees.
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Craig McBreen February 1, 2013 at 2:42 am

Hi Erin,

Loving the “work with me” section of your site. Will be interesting where the speaking and Huffington Post gigs get you. With all this it’s obvious you really getting at it. Best of luck!


Mark January 31, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Business success is a simple formula: fail a lot, learn a lot from mistakes, survive the process, build a legacy of success… this is accomplished over a career, pretty much in that order.

I’m in the legacy stages now – holy crapola! :o

Success is achieved by those who never accept defeat, never quit and have the guts, nerves and balls to fight on believing they can win in the face of adversity… And eventually these do.

A serious minority here, Craig!
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Craig McBreen February 1, 2013 at 2:48 am

Hi Mark,

Yeah, any defeat kind pisses me off, so I get right cranky at first, then just plan smarter and work harder to not get defeated again.

So cheers to that! Now, if I ever get my butt down to Costa Rica you can tell me all the war stories over a beer ;)

Always love your comments, Mark. Thanks!


Rondeann Wood-Rowe January 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm

There is a Quote from Michael Jordan that says it best “I can accept failure, everybody fails at something. But I cannot accept not trying” this has become a phrase I turn to when I am afraid to move forward and grab whatever new thing I am doing by the pelotasp and go!


Craig McBreen February 1, 2013 at 2:57 am

Hi Rondeann,

Michael Jordan was the guy who always stayed after practice to shoot more baskets, right? ;) That and waking up early and working toward a goal while other people are still in bed. That is detailed nicely in this piece …

Thanks for the visit!


Mary Stephenson February 1, 2013 at 2:42 am

Hi Craig

I wonder why the setbacks from what I had planned in life of where I should be by now. I still keep coming back to the question…”what am I supposed to learn from all of this? There has got to be something I am expected to do, someone I am suppose to connect with, a purpose for where I am at the present. A direction I need to take to get me to where I am supposed to go.”

I remember reading somewhere, that your life is not an accident. If it be so, then surely there is a purpose I am suppose to fill. I am surprised how things have turned, over the last few years and I never would have guessed this would be the direction I would take. Amazing and so as crazy as things are right now, I am looking forward to the new horizons of the adventure, whatever that might be. Failure is only what you make of it, I just see it as a fork in the road to take a new direction. Did not always feel that way, but surviving a lot of upsets has given me a new prospective.

Some really good thoughts in this post.

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Craig McBreen February 1, 2013 at 3:02 am

Hi Mary,

Just as I believe no one is really born to do something, I also believe, like you, that failure is only what you make of it. Something so well stated by you and others here.

Other things like letting go of control (something I still struggle with) and simply playing the observer of your own emotions help. And you learn to do this more effectively, well, as you’ve stated: “surviving a lot of upsets.”

Glad you have a new perspective. Dare I say a new outlook on life? I’ve had a couple of those shifts over the past few years.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.


Sheila Bergquist February 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

This is so inspiring. Life’s ups and downs can leave us feeling dizzy and defeated sometimes. Wise advice you have just given us…thanks. I especially like “keep rediscovering your inner strength.”
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Craig McBreen February 2, 2013 at 2:05 am

Hi Sheila,

Thanks again for your comments. I got back to you earlier, but my site was hacked. Had to restore and lost those. Talk about ups and downs, some hacker killed three hours of my day ;)


Denise February 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Well said. I like the reality of this post. Life isn’t always pleasure. It isn’t always positive. I don’t care how many affirmation you repeat to yourself.

I like what Jeff Goins said in his book, Wrecked: “when the passion goes away, it’s the practice that sustains us”. I think that’s so true. Keeping at it, even when we aren’t creating anything amazing, or our personal life is tough, I find that the practice indeed sustains.
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Craig McBreen February 2, 2013 at 2:07 am

Hi Denise,

Not sure if you read my earlier comments, but I did respond … soon after my site was hacked. I restored it, but lost my earlier response to you. Anyway, really appreciate you stopping by and love your thoughtful comments, Mr. Goins is so right! Have a great weekend.


Kate Finley February 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I love this post. I really like your inspirational posts and the way you write, Craig. You’re right on and facing fear is what I’ve been dealing with lately. I have to choose, sometimes daily, to just DO IT. I’m more optimistic than most … however, I also don’t want to fail miserably if I can avoid it. What’s the worst that could happen? Most likely the answer isn’t death. So … just do it. Embrace it. Move forward. Take the risk and accept the reward.

Love it.


Craig McBreen February 2, 2013 at 2:08 am

Hi Kate,

Funny, or not so funny, my site was hacked earlier and after I restored it, lost my response to you. You may have already read it, but wanted to let you know, Ma’am. Appreciate your very thoughtful comments and hope you have a great weekend!


Julie Barrett February 1, 2013 at 4:09 pm

It’s simultaneously daunting and exciting, right now. The key for me lately is to accomplish *just one* major thing, every day. Oh, and not to waste time messing around on the internet to excess. Off I go!
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Craig McBreen February 2, 2013 at 2:10 am

Hey Julie,

As you can see from my replies to the three ladies above, I’ve been dealing with some unsavory hacker dude. Bugger! Now I’m back in action and do appreciate you stopping by today!


Julie Barrett February 4, 2013 at 3:14 am

Oh no! EEK! Glad all is fixed and resolved… My goodness, did they hear you writing about not wasting time??
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Craig McBreen February 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

I’ll borrow a line from Brian and say hackers should be tortured and then killed. I’m joking, of course ;)


Brian D. Meeks February 4, 2013 at 1:33 am

I think part of the problem is uniquely American. I lived in Lyon, France, for a summer and they have a different attitude. I can’t imagine them saying “one car” is a failure, as Danny pointed out.

Their mothers don’t suffer American mommy guilt. It just isn’t part of their culture. I’m not bashing the U.S. at all, I’m just saying we seem to be an all or nothing sort of country.

Don’t get me wrong, the people who think EVERYONE should get a trophy, well, they should die. I’m just kidding. They should be tortured and then killed. No, seriously, I’m fooling around. I’m sure we could think of something suitable and much slower and more painful than simply torture and death. I digress.

The point is, after France, I approached things differently. When I was trying to lose weight, I didn’t become a zealot. I figured that before I started I ate crap all the time. If I chose to NOT eat crap once per day, that was improvement and in my mind, success. At the height of my healthiness, I was eating only one or two crappy meals per week and the weight came off.

You all know I want to sell a lot of books. It is my dream. In fact, I’d like to sell J.K. Rowling numbers, but that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy now. Not at all. Every single sales makes me happier than you would imagine.

When the day comes that I’m a NY Times bestselling author, that will make me happy, too, but I’d wager it won’t be vastly better than the joy I feel now.

Success can be just as satisfying on one’s own terms, at least, it is for me.

Good post, I’d call it a winner!
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Craig McBreen February 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

Hi Brian,

American mommy guilt is a good one, and so true. As a parent you almost feel like you have to keep up with the uber parents of the neighborhood. My wife and I abandoned that mentality a long time ago.

I hear ya on the trophy thing ;)

About France. It’s funny the culture that embraces good food – read: butter and delicious animal fat – has some of the healthiest people on earth. At least that’s what I hear. But they eat good stuff, not processed crap. That processed junk is what is making them fat and in some cases killing people. I’ve heard this stuff referred to as “soulless treats” and I think that fits.

As a writer, it sounds like you are in the perfect place and yes, “success can be just as satisfying on one’s own terms.” Love that, and thanks for the kind words. Hope you have a great day.


Churchill Madyavanhu February 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

Great post. Well said Brian. I started running a few weeks ago, after a 20-year break. At the beginning I could only run 2-3 minutes without a break. I didn’t didn’t let that stop me. Each minute I spent running was better that a minute spent in front of the TV. That’s success according to me.

As Michael John Bobak said, “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”
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Craig McBreen February 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hi Churchill,

Thank you! Yeah, with running it’s amazing how you can make great progress slowly, but surely, just increasing your time, then mileage as you go. More than a few have worked their way up to 26.2 miles this way. And love what you’ve stated, because only you define success! And so true … getting uncomfortable is a sure way to make things happen.

Thanks for stopping in!


Jens P. Berget February 4, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I am not sure if this is a good idea, but I am currently saying YES to every single opportunity and it has taken me to strange places. Right now, I am heading to the local newspaper to do an interview on my novel. I would never have agreed to that just a few months ago. I am shy, that’s why :)
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Craig McBreen February 5, 2013 at 8:08 am

Hey Jens,

Keep saying yes to the right things and see where it takes you ;) You’ll know when it’s the right opportunity. Sounds great and I’m glad you’re getting out and getting uncomfortable! I’m sure it will go great.


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