Do you ever wonder why successful people don’t take “failure” as truth?
Many amazingly successful individuals were told by “experts” that they did not have what it takes to succeed at their chosen endeavors.
What was the thing that made them continue on anyway?
This has always fascinated me.
I’m not so fascinated with those that had it all from the beginning – but with those “underdogs” who rose above and beyond what they were “expected” to do.
In this episode I explore what this is and, of course, how it relates to singing.
I know you’ll find some of the examples pretty amazing and you may possibly relate to them…I did.
Listen and enjoy!
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 46 – Transcripts
The Beatles will NEVER make it in show business!
Well, hey there, everybody, and welcome to The Inner Singer Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in. This is Mike Goodrich. I’m thrilled to be here. And again, I’m so happy that you are here.
I saw a video the other day that inspired me. Ideas for The Inner Singer Podcast seem to come from everywhere. And right as I think I’m out of ideas, something gets to me, something inspires me. So I wanted to share some things with you that I saw on that video. And the idea was about people that have had failures—what they would call “failures.”
I know we’ve all certainly had them. I certainly have had what I would call “failures,” many of them. And it’s really interesting. You may have seen this video. You know a lot of these things, but I’m going to read something to you because I think it’s worth delving into. And even if you’ve heard this before, it’s good, I think, to be reminded of it. And let’s go a little deeper with regards to how we look at it.
And most people just say as I do. Even the title of this may end up being ‘Feedback, not Failure’ or something of that nature. But I heard somebody say not too long ago that they didn’t look at failure as failure the way everybody looks at failure. But they looked at it as feedback.
So, you try something, it doesn’t work. And it’s kind of like the glass, is it half empty or is it half full? How are we going to look at this? Did we fail at it or did we just get feedback?
The story goes around and around with Thomas Edison who discovered the principle—which I really loved the way he said that. I was at the—my family and I, we were at the—I think it’s the museum of something or other in Los Angeles. There are so many museums here and they’re great. But I’m not sure of the exact name of this one.
But there was a letter written by Edison to somebody, one of his friends. And the way he put it—he didn’t say, “Wow! This is great. I invented the electric light bulb.” He put it in a way that said, “I discovered the principle of the electric light,” which is really interesting.
It might sound like a little thing. It’s a little bit off the subject here, but discovering the principle of something is much more significant than inventing something or feeling like, “I invented this.”
It was so humble, “I discovered the principle of it.” And I think that reflects in what his approach may have been because as the story goes—and I’ve heard 10,000 I’ve heard 7000. We’ve all heard a number of times that Edison—in air quotes—failed when he was trying to create or discover or invent the electric light, right? But I think that it’s very telling in his letter when he said, “I discovered the principle of the electric light,” rather than saying, “I invented it.”
Imagine the feeling behind looking for something if you’re trying to invent versus if you’re looking for something that you feel exists. “There is a principle here, and I’m looking for it. I’m not inventing anything out of thin air necessarily, but there is a principle involved in harnessing this electricity and being able to use it at will in a light bulb.”
I know it may seem like a subtle difference. And maybe to many of us, it doesn’t seem like any difference at all. To me, it does seem like a difference. And I don’t know exactly what it is, but I think it’s worth pondering, looking at discovering the principle of something versus inventing something.
And I think in terms of our singing and how we would approach our singing, there are principles involved in singing. So rather than looking for something—when we’re inventing something or trying to—I don’t want to use the word “create,” because we’re all creative and I love creating and we all love creating. So I don’t want to use the word “create.”
But if we’re trying to, let’s say, find something that we don’t think we have already. I think the idea here is that Edison, on some level, must have known that this principle existed just like we know—although I didn’t, in the first place, when I started singing. I didn’t know that the principles of singing actually existed. I really thought that you could either do it or you couldn’t do it. And I was one of the unlucky ones and I was just banging against the wall trying to figure this out/ Ot was a constant failure, a constant failure, a constant failure.
It wasn’t a committed look for a principle until much later when I was determined and convinced that a part of me already knew how to do this, that there were principles.
I used to say, “How come there’s a principle to put together a piano or a trumpet or a guitar, but there are no principles for voice?” And it turns out I was wrong about that.
And years after believing that, I would begin searching and become on a quest for the principles. What am I missing here? I know there’s a way to do this. I know there’s a way for me to do this, and I know there has to be a part of me that already knows how to do this.
Now, I know that may sound a little far out, but I think that was the Edison approach—I didn’t know it at the time—but when he was looking for the principle. In other words, I know these principles exist in this universe. They exist. I just need to discover them.
And I think that’s kind of a really cool way to look at it because it really opens things up and it supposes. presupposes that it exists already. And a part of us already knows how to do what we’re really looking to do.
So I got a little off-topic there, I think. Well, I think it’s on-topic, but I went off/ I know I’m a little bit of a tangent away from what I had planned, but this ties in with what I had planned. I just planned on this part of the conversation coming after I introduced some of these other ideas, but it seems like it came before. So we’ll see what comes after.
But I want to get to what I was going to be talking about. And that is—and I have some things on my computer screen, because I have to read them. These are really, really cool. I’m not sure how many do I have. Let’s see here—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
Now, see if I can trick you with some of these because I was tricked with a few of them. I mean, some of them I knew and some of them I did not know. But these are describing some people who had what one would call “failures” or “really difficult times.”
So let’s look. Here’s the first one.
“He wasn’t able to speak until he was almost four years old. And his teachers said he would never amount to much.” Anybody know who that is? I bet a lot of you do, maybe some of you don’t. Albert Einstein.
So let’s look at this. “He was demoted”—I’m sorry, she. That’s a hint right there. “She was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she ‘wasn’t fit for television.’” Now, we probably all know who that is, Oprah Winfrey.
Here’s another one, “fired from a newspaper for ‘lacking imagination and having no original ideas.’” This one, I didn’t know. Walt Disney. No original ideas, huh? Really?
“At age 11, he was cut from his team after being diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency which made him smaller in stature than most kids his age.”
Now, I have to admit, I actually don’t know who this fellow is, but some of you might. Lionel Messi, three-time FIFA World Player of the Year. Now, forgive me for not knowing what that is. But it sounds pretty darn impressive based on what people had told him earlier in his life.
“At 30 years old, he was left devastated and depressed after being unceremoniously removed from the company he started.” Now, I guessed at this one, and I was right, Steve Jobs.
Now, I have got to make this bigger—okay, there we go. “A teacher told him he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’ and that he should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality.” And we talked about him earlier, Thomas Edison.
“Rejected by Decca Recording Studios who said, ‘We don’t like their sound. They have no future in show business.’” Ladies and gentlemen, let me do my bad Ed Seligman. “All right here, ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles.” Wow, that’s terrible. And probably nobody remembers Ed Seligman anyway, so it could be good. But it was bad.
“His first book was rejected by 27 publishers.” Hello. I didn’t know this. I guessed wrong. Dr. Seuss—who I should know because we have a million of his books. He’s the most famous sold author for children in history.
So, okay, what does this have to do with anything, right? Well, we chatted a little bit at the beginning about Edison and discovering the principle of the electric light. But what about all these other folks?
What made them—you know, the old saying, the old cliché, which is very cool—fall down seven times and get up eight, or in a lot of their instances, fall down a lot more than seven times and get up a lot more than eight? What was that?
See, I, myself, am more interested in what was going on inside—in their belief system, in their wiring, in their programming.
What was it that kept Edison on track? What was it that kept The Beatles going? What was it that kept Oprah going? Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney, what was it that kept these folks going?
You know, I had a teacher that I loved. I won’t mention his name. He was a great guy. He’s a dear guy, dear friend. He’s much older than I am and helped me tremendously in a lot of ways.
I used to remember that in the lessons, almost every time I saw him, he would grit his teeth, and he’d say, “Everyday, I teach and protest to the lousy-voiced teachers out there that are ruining voices. I can’t quit. I teach in protest.” And my friends and I that were studying, we would just crack up and we’d say, “Wow! That’s great! Whatever motivates you, I guess.”
So there are a lot of things, I guess, in our wiring, in our internal mechanisms that drive us on to pursue something. And there are other people that do it to prove it to somebody else or to do it to prove it to themselves.
I would really love to know the whole story—maybe some of you do. I’m sure there’s probably an autobiography somewhere on Michael Jordan, or probably many, actually, or some of these other people that give more insight. But not knowing that, we can speculate just for fun.
What do you think would be something that knowing The Beatles and their music, knowing about Michael Jordan, knowing about Walt Disney, knowing about Dr. Seuss and the love that he poured into the books—well, I just said it, didn’t I? What do you think was the main motivator, inspiration, for these folks to not take these failures as failures and not give up, but to take them more as feedback?
“Well, that’s your opinion. I’ll take that feedback, but that’s not what I’m going to believe about myself.”
What gave them the ability to do that in the face of crushing odds? It’s really easy to look back—hindsight is always 20-20, right? We look back and we say, “Oh, well, it’s not a big deal.”
But getting fired from a TV job like Oprah did and being told you’re not fit for television, that’s hurtful. That’s really, really hurtful. Or being told that you’re fired from a newspaper job because you lack imagination, any number of these things? Or you better rely on getting a job because of your pleasant personality? And it’s Thomas Edison. Or you guys should just get out of show business, your sound is awful? The Beatles.
What makes somebody go on? My feeling deep down is the thing that makes somebody go on and not give up and go down is the absolute love of what they’re doing, the love of discovery, the love of discovering more of themselves through the activity that they’re pursuing.
Now, a lot of us don’t really stop and think about that. I mean even that statement might really sound kind of weird. “What do you mean ‘discovering more of yourself through an activity that you’re doing’? What is that about?”
Well, don’t you, when you sing, when you’re really present with singing and really present with yourself, isn’t the act of being really present with yourself and present with your voice and present with what’s going on in the music, isn’t that really an opportunity and an avenue through which you go deeper into the discovery and exploration of yourself? If you really stop and think about it, isn’t that what we want, to know ourselves better?
When Michael Jordan is in the zone, why do you think he loves basketball so much? Why do you think that a phenomenal piano player loves playing the piano or a chef loves to cook or a progammer loves to program or a writer loves to write? It’s a way to go deeper into an experience of themselves.
Now, I’m sure—or not sure, but I would speculate—that some people don’t even know that that’s why they do it. But they say, “I love the way this makes me feel. I love the feeling I get when I’m doing this activity.”
Michael Jordan might say, “I love the feeling of being in the zone.” And so, we identify it with the thing, but is it really the thing? Or is it allowing ourselves to feel and go deeper into ourselves and using this activity as a way to do that?
That’s why I really love to sing. I used to love—and still do—I used to love performing once I got past that fear that I was just going to forget the words—my constant fear, I’ve shared that in previous podcasts. But even—probably not during that time—but now, one of the things that I love about performing is the opportunity to be completely present, completely undistracted, completely into this thing that I’m doing and much deeper in myself.
I don’t know how many of my audience meditates. I would probably think quite a few might meditate or have meditated. And when I’m singing a song, it’s the closest thing to an active meditation.
I saw a buddy of mine one time—well, he was more of an acquiantance at the time. I used to do voiceovers. And I was okay at them. I was never great and I didn’t have a big voiceover career. But a fellow that I knew, he’s a great guy. He was the father of a student of mine. And this is going back some 10 years, maybe a little bit more. His name was Bill. And he was a very, very famous voiceover guy. And he was fabulous.
And he invited me over to his home studio one day to watch him work. I was there for two, three hours, and I watched what he did. He had a home studio and he would audition from home. His agent would email him or contact him or call him. He’d go into his booth, and they’d faxed him or emailed him—I guess they faxed him at that time—faxed him the copy. And he would go and read the copy two or three times, mp3 and off.
And I was watching him audition. I was watching him do some of the work that he would do from his home studio and then send it to ABC, NBC or whoever, whatever commercials he would’ve been contracted to do or voiceovers or intros for movies or whatever. I was watching him, and I felt like I was watching orchestra play in tune.
This guy would move so gracefully and peacefully and relaxed from one thing to another, from the booth to the fax machine to the phone with his agent. I just never saw anything like it. It was so smooth, so easy like a well-oiled machine, completely relaxed, completely present, completely non-distracted, undistracted with a total love and joy in his flow.
And I was looking at that thinking, “Wow! This isn’t for me at all.” At the time, I had been given by my agent an opportunity that all voiceover guys wanted—and that’s to audition from home just like Bill. So they’d shoot me, fax me or email me the slides or the copy. I’d go into my home studio and I’d record it.
But unlike Bill who was really, really present and would do it two or three times, maybe—maybe not, even maybe once or twice—and then send it off, I would find myself up almost all night doing it, because it was never good enough. “I can do it better. I can do it better,” and hours and hours later, trying to be perfect, I couldn’t let it go.
And I used to dread it. I used to say, “Oh my gosh! I just want to go back with my agent. I’ll drive all the way to Hollywood.” He stuffs me in a booth. He lets me do it two or three times. That’s it. Then he makes me leave. I can’t do this on my own, because I cannot let these things go. They’re never good enough in my mind.
So, again, I’m not sure how I completely got off-topic that way except to more describe the fellow that I was watching and how in-the-flow he was and how that must have been a tremendous way for him to just go deeper and deeper into the exploration of himself.
Watching him work was like watching somebody in a moving meditation, whereas the other side of the coin is where I was—completely in my head, completely in a pattern of perfection. Being given this gift of being able to audition from home and having it be a curse based on my interpretation, it’s like, “I can’t do this. I just can’t do this.” And I ended up actually losing both my agents. And that was the end. That was the end of my voiceover career.
So, I shared the good, the bad and the ugly here, right? If you guys know anything about me by now, you know I’m not blowing smoke and I’m not trying to make you think I’m something other than I am and I have all my life together and all this stuff is just—everything I do is wonderful, right? No, that’s not the case.
But I was able to let that go easily, quite frankly, because I was so relieved, and I realized that wasn’t for me. And then I was able to go back into something that allowed me to go deeper into myself.
So, that was an interesting feedback moment because that didn’t ultimate in me deciding to continue voiceovers. That actually showed me in a really clear way that that was not for me.
Now, I had many instances in singing that I could’ve taken as failure. And, years and years ago, when I was in my twenties, a gal that I really respected told me that I just didn’t have a pretty voice and I was going to have to rely on being really strong and powerful.
Well, I carried that with me for a long, long time. I just decided I didn’t have a pretty voice and pushed my voice like crazy. I think I’ve spoken about this before many times.
So, I took that as feedback, but unfortunately I took that as truth. I didn’t take it in a way that I processed it well. I processed it really based on my wiring and sense of self at the time.
We talk a lot about self-esteem—I don’t necessarily, but it’s talked about. And so, based on what my sense of self was, self-esteem, when she said, “You don’t have a pretty voice,” I believed it. I really didn’t take it too much as feedback. It was feedback, but I took it as truth and believed it and started to sing as if that were true.
Now, these other folks that I mentioned before, they didn’t seem to do that. They looked at it, they might have been hurt, they might have felt bad. But it doesn’t seem like many of them—or if any of them—really took it as being true, but as somebody’s opinion. And they must have had something deep within their wiring or programming or self-esteem, their beliefs which allowed them to move forward in spite of these terrible things that were said to them.
Whereas, I, at the time, believed it and didn’t think, “Well, I guess I don’t have a pretty voice. I better do this to make up for it.” And boom, I got myself on a vocal path that was fairly destructive and kept me away from my own natural voice for a number of years. I was trying to have this big strong dramatic voice because I was convinced I didn’t have a pretty voice because one person that I respected for whatever reason—and she couldn’t even sing! One person.
But perhaps that was just confirming what I thought. Maybe it was a belief I already had. It validated it. That’s what we create once in awhile, something to validate what we already believe.
So, anyway, I know I’ve gone on for a long, long time. I think we can just about wrap this up. But I think the main thing is what was going on with them that they were able to hear these things, but not believe them, and then rise on to these amazing heights, dig down deep into themselves and discover more of who they were. So it’s very, very fascinating.
So, I think they are terrific examples. I think we’ve covered a lot in this podcast. I don’t know if we have any wonderful answers, but I think we have a lot of food for thought and a lot of things to ponder.
My goal is not necessarily to always give you answers. I don’t have all the answers obviously. But hopefully, this gives you a little idea into my process and the things that I think about.
And if you could leave this podcast just by feeling, “Wow! That’s something to think about. That’s something to meditate on or contemplate or see if that makes—how does that make sense to me or how can I apply this or what’s going on with this.” That’s all I really hope for, to have some kind of inspiration that can spur you on to discover things for yourself.
I had a wonderful teacher one time that told me, “My job is to teach myself out of a job,” meaning, “I need to teach you how to do this.” And we all have all these things within us, right?
So, anyway, on your quest in discovering more of who you are, have a great quest. I’ll see you next week. Bye, bye.