I Failed the Boat Builder


Not a fun word. Something we want to avoid in our lives. Something that doesn’t go on our resume or on our Facebook page. We run from failure, pretend it didn’t happen.

But often, failure is exactly what we need to build our character and prepare us for the next step forward.

I remember one of my first paid video projects. It came through a friend of a friend, and it was to create a video telling the story of a lovingly restored sailboat.

It should have been a very easy thing to do, looking at it now. But I made a mistake. I didn’t get the whole picture, and I didn’t hustle.

I spent a long time trying to get everything set up perfectly inside the sailboat to shoot it. I didn’t want to do any handheld shooting, because I was a little naive, so I had the guy build me a custom guide-wire through the boat for a walkthrough, and it didn’t work at all. We ended up wasting hours on that and did a handheld walkthrough in the end after all in about 30 minutes or less.

Then, I didn’t focus on the details he was hoping that I would. I didn’t pay enough attention to what he wanted and shot things that weren’t flattering.

He had a ton of photos of the construction, and wanted a slideshow with voice-over telling the story. I wasted so much time getting the boat footage that we never got to the photos.

Eventually I lost the job to a professional video company in the area. I was too slow, didn’t listen, and botched it.

I never saw it coming. I thought I was awesome. The truth is, I was a college student working for cheap with borrowed equipment and no experience, and had no idea what my client was actually looking for. He thought he was getting a great deal at first, and I didn’t deliver.

That was one of the best failures I’ve ever had. I tasted just enough of the thrill of contract work that I wanted more, and paid just enough attention that I could learn from my mistakes. I was told by yet another production person that I had no future in the business of video, which spurred me on to keep trying and to prove them wrong.

And, it knocked my pride down a few notches, which was helpful in showing me how much I still needed to learn.

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