Tina Fey on Failure

 In Honorable Closure (HC), Letting Go, Reclaiming Joy, Tools & Resources

“Bombing” is Tina Fey lingo for failure.

You will find this and other insights in Tina’s memoir, Bossypants that is a blend of laugh-out-loud mind-candy and practical wisdom. This stuff about ‘bombing’ is part of a list she compiled: “Things I learned from Lorne Michaels.”

At Second City Tina learned that no matter how bad an improv set goes, you will still be physically alive when it’s over. Such perspective. What she learned about bombing (as a writer) at Saturday Night Live is that you can’t be too worried about your permanent record. You’ll produce ‘golden nuggets’ that you’re always be proud of, and ‘real shit nuggets.’ It’s part of the experience.

Here was the point I found most useful: “Just be sure you know the difference between the gold and the shit so when Monday morning rolls around you can go back to panning for gold.”

That requires reflection, taking time to make those distinctions and lend the event a sense of proportion. Honorable Closure encourages us to acknowledge and assess the degree of failure, to take honest stock of our bombs in the context of the bigger picture. It’s an important component to letting go and moving on with grace.

This is the one step of my 4-step process for Honorable Closure that clients most often want to rush through or skip, but that leaves a lot of gold-nugget lessons on the table. It’s uncomfortable, but grows easier when you bring compassion to the predicament.

Lesson 2 (out of 8) is: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” Corporate leaders and entrepreneurs work with that kind of pressure every day. Tina wrote: “Do your hardest to be at the top of your game, improve every joke you can until the last possible second, then let it go. Don’t overthink it. It will never be perfect. Perfection is over rated.”

Befriend your failure and imperfection and you free yourself to do amazing work and reclaim joy in your life and work.

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