Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

The Satisfaction Of Doing A Hard Job Well

I’m talking about the pleasure one takes in not just doing a very difficult job well, but actually enjoying it in the process. There is something deliciously satisfying about the whole thing…

A job most people couldn’t do, nor would they want to even if they could. A job so hard, most people in the same profession want nothing to do with it. A job with non stop stress, where people are dying right under your hands, and it somehow begins to seem as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

But for you it feels like home, like this is your comfort zone. When you can pull this off for a 12 and a half hour shift like it’s just another day in the office, you feel like you’ve actually done something useful. You begin to feel like you’re part of an elite club that most people have no idea it even exists.

If the job in question is that of an ER nurse, be fucking proud of it. Take a minute to feel good about yourself. At the end of your shift, go home and get some rest – hopefully you’ll live another day and be able to do it all over again.

Enjoy the feeling of knowing you tried to help others in need, and maybe, for a brief moment, you succeeded. And if, despite your best efforts, you think you fell short there’s always tomorrow.

I Don’t Know

Here’s some counter intuitive advice: whenever you hear someone say “I don’t know,” you should listen to this person carefully. They are probably very smart, supremely confident, and extremely self aware. Whatever it is they don’t know, chances are good that they will figure it out.

Conversely, anyone (or any institution) that claims to have all the answers most definitely doesn’t. Run, do not walk from this person, and whatever you do, don’t join their organization. Unless you are a foolish and gullible person who simply wants to be told what to do. If you are this type of person, stop it. You are selling yourself short and it’s depriving you from one of life’s great pleasures – figuring shit out. It’s fun, builds character, and makes you a more interesting human. So stop falling for other people’s bullshit and start thinking for yourself. It might seem hard at first, but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it.

“I don’t know” is what moves the world ahead. It’s the foundation of all learning and the essence of science. Don’t be afraid to say it – instead be excited.

It means you’re about to learn something.

Trying To Get Better Every Day

Sometimes this is a focused effort on a specific task or subject, other times not so much. Some days it’s as simple as just trying to be a better human, trying to treat other people in a respectful and caring way.

But here’s the reality of all this: it’s a process, and there will be many, many times where you fail miserably. You might think that after a certain point in life you would stop failing, but you would be very wrong.

The only way to stop failing is to stop trying.

Mental Toughness

I refuse to give my physical pain any value. I shove the pain aside, focus on something different, and force myself to keep moving.” Dauwalter cites her preferred mental tactic being race-day mantras. “I keep repeating over in my head, ‘Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving.’ Or sometime’s it’s, ‘You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine.’ If I’m being nice to myself, sometimes I will cheer myself on and repeat, ‘You’re doing a good job. You’re doing a good job. You’re doing a good job.’ “

Courtney Dauwalter, Winner MOAB 240, 2017; She ran 238 miles in 58 hours and slept 21 minutes. No special diet and no plan. Just sheer unfathamable will power.

Quitting is a decision


It was gently raining on a soft summer night in East Berlin. Maybe 10 or 11 pm and the streetlights glowed in the cool, humid summer air. You wanted to walk down to the street – little did either one of us know that it would be your last time out.

You had your shorts on, I remember you were worried that someone you knew might see you with your “baggage.” I carried your oxygen tank while you had the umbrella in one hand and in the other the shopping bag we put your bile drainage device in.

I remember thinking “well this might have been a mistake” when you had trouble getting down the stairs. But I sensed this was important, so I acted like all of it was the most normal thing in the world. I loved you so much – I just wanted to be with you in these last moments we had together.

We sat on a stoop in the rain, talking like we always had, sometimes just sitting in silence, with the sounds of the city and life flowing by us like a river. We knew each other deeply and our flaws only drew us closer. We were alike in so many ways – forever escaping a past that would never let us be. We shared a childhood experiencing things no child should have to go through. It forged in us an extreme toughness and resiliency but without making us hard, and ultimately it bound us together.

When you died I wept, and I don’t cry easily. Life is cruel, but it was a little easier just knowing that somewhere, if I ever needed you, you were there. I’ll always miss you and carry you in my heart until the day I die. You’re gone but never forgotten my gifted, handsome, and hilarious brother. This shit show of a world can be brutal, but it dealt me a good hand when I met you.

Rest In Peace.

Be Kind To Yourself

If something is going on in your life that is impairing your ability to function, realize it’s okay. This is part of the pain of living and things will eventually get better.

Be kind to yourself.

The Inevitable Leader

First things first: nobody wants to be the leader except, well, leaders (and even then there might be some reluctance).

Secondly, everyone, and I mean pretty much everyone (unless they’re a completely self-defeating nihilistic anarchist), recognizes that someone needs to lead. Without a leader, not much gets done.

So that means that someone is left with the often thankless job of leading. An interesting side note here is that it’s not unusual for the job to be thrust upon them almost by default. When a role needs to be filled, the group will naturally turn to the one who seems to have the qualities needed to get the job done.

It’s not a job that most people would want. Failure or success will fall on the shoulders of the one who leads. There will be lots of unpleasantness to be dealt with, and many, many frustrations. Those being lead will constantly grumble and often question the decisions of the leader, even while privately thinking “thank god it’s not me.”

But for those who have a natural predilection for it, there can be an almost perverse pride in overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles and doing a job most wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do. Even in the face of hardship, they steadfastly look out for the safety of the ones they are leading, and never lose sight of the objective. The more you beat them down, the more determined they become. They pay a price, of course – but they accept their responsibility and forge ahead.

That’s what leaders do. Against all odds, sometimes reluctantly and always self-questioning, at the end of the day they serve the greater good for the group, because that’s who they are.

Inevitably someone must lead. Fate or circumstance will thrust someone into the position, and if they are a leader, they do the only thing their nature allows.

They lead.

Rock And Roll Crucible Part 1

If you really take the time to dive deep down the rabbit hole to investigate and learn about specific genres of music, you will often find a whole cast of characters you never heard of. For example, in rock music, a good argument could be made that the period of 1967-1974 was the crucible that spawned virtually all of the sub genres that followed. It was the Wild West of rock and roll and the laws had yet to be written.

In those pre-internet days, geography played a large part, and in this context the Detroit-Michigan scene was hugely influential. A lot of the important players would never become household names, and today have faded into history, but if you’re interested in rock music they are fascinating and larger than life characters whose contributions loom large. Richard “Dick” Wagner was one of those people.

He was a guitar player from Oelwein Iowa, born in 1942, who really helped define a specific and highly musical style of playing. His sound was inextricably tied to his Les Paul cranked up through a Marshall amp, but he refined it to a degree that put him in a category occupied by a rarefied few. Anyone who is a fan of “classic rock” has heard his work, though few would know his name. If you’re a musician who’s into guitar and production, Dick Wagner was a great example of an incredibly gifted musician who honed his craft by playing thousands of gigs in the mid west club scene in the mid to late sixties. In those early days of “heavy” rock guitar sounds, there was only one way to get that tone – take your guitar of choice and plug it directly into a Marshall amp turned all the way up. No pedals and no preamp channel on the Marshall – the only extra technology required might be a wah wah pedal, and I’m not aware of Dick using that.

If you’ve ever been in the same room with a Marshall amp cranked up, you’ll know that it is so loud it’s actually frightening. We’re talking loud on a level that’s actually changing your biology on a molecular level – affecting hormonal cascades and altering neurological functioning to create an alternative state of consciousness. Volume at this level is actually acting like a drug, and (at least before you go deaf) can trigger euphoric states. So someone who has mastered an ability to harness and control this immense power begins to take on the role of a Shamen, whether anyone witnessing this phenomenon is aware of it or not.

Once again, this is the power of great art – it changes the lives of everyone who comes into contact with it. All hail Dick Wagner, gone but not forgotten. For everyone who loves this stuff, he made our lives just a little bit better. He was truly one of the pioneers of the art form, and armed with a Les Paul and a Marshall, he made life a little more exciting for everyone. Some people are visionaries who show others what might be possible. Thank you and RIP, Dick Wagner.

You Can Do Whatever You Want

This is the cool thing about creating something – there is no right or wrong, and the only person you have to please is yourself.

It is whatever you want it to be.


Say you’re of sound mind, you’ve got a bit of a drinking problem, and you present to an ER intoxicated with a necrotic ankle secondary to osteomyelitis. The only treatment is to amputate your foot, but you don’t want to do that. It’s not hurting because the bone is dead – it looks grotesque but hey, you can kind of hobble around and cover it up so no one sees it. The problem is eventually you’ll become septic and die. You don’t want to be admitted because you’ve got a date with a bottle. If you’re the doc, what do you do?

Welcome to the ER!

Don’t Buy Trouble Part 2

Don’t worry friendo, trouble will have no difficulty finding you when it needs to. In the meantime, don’t go looking for it.

If you find a lump, it doesn’t mean you have cancer. A headache isn’t always a cerebral hemorrhage – in fact, it’s almost certainly not. Tingling in your hand doesn’t mean you’re having a stroke. Forgetting your keys doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. Sex with a stranger doesn’t make you HIV+, and a tremor isn’t Parkinson’s. See the pattern here? Take a deep breath and calm the fuck down – even if it is any of these things, you’re not qualified to diagnose it. Reading WebMd doesn’t make you a doctor.

Here’s the thing: there’s a process to being diagnosed with disease, and it make take multiple doctors and a whole variety of sophisticated tests to do it. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is of course always possible, it happens to people everyday. It happened to me. But know this: if you or a loved one are diagnosed with a serious disease, you will need to keep your wits about you and remain rational so you can think clearly. Once trouble has found you, then, and only then, will you have no choice but to deal with it.

But until that time, don’t go shopping for it. Trouble requires a clear head and is not something to be taken lightly. Make no mistake, in this life sooner or later you are going to have to deal with it. Always be prepared, but for Christ’s sake don’t go around looking for it. What’s the matter with you?

“I’m Not Gifted, I’m Driven”

Even if you have no interest in extreme endurance athletes, there is no denying David Goggins is a very interesting human being with a compelling story. I recently listened to a conversation with him on Joe Rogan’s podcast – by his own admission he is the ultimate manifestation of the title of this blog: Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed.

He said one thing that really struck me: Most people quit at 40%. Meaning that when most people give up because they think something is too hard & they can’t go on, they don’t realize that they have another 60% left in them. His point is this: we are all capable of so much more than we ever dreamed possible – we quit on ourselves too easily and are simply unwilling to suffer pain in order to achieve what we want. Now it’s one thing to read this in books or online, or to hear it in Ted Talks or motivational speakers. It’s another thing entirely to see someone who actually does it – over and over and over again. People like him and Courtney Dauwalter are interested in seeing how far the human body can be pushed, and it turns out that it’s a lot farther than previously thought possible. Yet they both insist that they have no special gifts – apparently their gift is their ability to control their mind.

What are we to make of this? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…

Move On

If you make a mistake, do not perseverate on it.

Instead, think about it carefully so you fully understand what you did wrong, then think about how to prevent it from happening again. Let the bad feeling you have cement the lesson in your mind.

Then move the fuck on.

You’re not doing anyone a favor by beating yourself up and brooding on it. Here’s a very hard lesson it took me a long time to learn: there is no shame in making a mistake and learning from it. The shame is in making the same mistake twice.