November 22, 2013 Patrick DeCoste

Are Perfectionists Failures?

Does Being A Perfectionist Make You A Failure?

I had 7 days to learn, arrange, record and publish the Eric Clapton classic, “Cocaine”. There was an online contest looking to create a video medley of all the participants with prizes including a $2,500 Clapton model guitar and exposure on his site. Voting consisted YouTube votes and panel judging. All you had to do was create an instrumental version of the song – right up my alley!

The song isn’t hard: 2 sections, 7 chords total and a basic, repetitious melody; I simply had to throw down a basic drum and bass loop and we’re off. I’m sure I could’ve made it respectable, posted it, hopefully got a few fans and been on my way… but with about 8 hours left, I called it quits. Everything was in order with only the guitar solo left.

Imagine an instrumental guitarist quitting a song when all that’s left is the guitar solo?! But I just couldn’t nail the Clapton vibe. Not that the goal was to play like Clapton; I wasn’t happy with my solos. I felt what I arranged was solid; but none of it mattered. It wasn’t perfect. So I quit. Walked away. But did I fail? Is not putting something out which you don’t believe in a failure?

In the end, I decided it’s better to not release anything I’m not happy with. A failure, to me, is something that flops; something that isn’t attempted because of the fear of failure. I tried and it didn’t work. I consider myself a perfectionist when it comes to music and wasn’t willing to release anything which isn’t my best.

Did I fail? No. Because I learned from it and bettered myself for when an opportunity like this comes along again. Next time you’re presented with a challenge, don’t be afraid to take a step back if it means two steps forward in the future.

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