Fail harder

28Aug16

I read an article a while back about Johannes Haushofer, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University who wrote a rather unconventional résumé: rather than tout his accomplishments, instead he listed his failures.

Johannes Haushofer resume BLOG

“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible,” Haushofer wrote.

That rings especially true in our age of social media, with its constant stream of images and posts. It’s easy to forget that those posts are highly curated, and that for every beautiful image we see there are likely a hundred crappy ones.

But wouldn’t it be refreshing if we occasionally set aside our polished highlight reels, and shared something a little bit more real?

In that spirit, today I’m abandoning my hand-picked travel photos to show you a shoot that went horribly wrong.

It wasn’t a professional gig, thank God — I simply wanted to make some nice portraits of my friends’ cat Rocky while I was cat-sitting.

I began with the obligatory Google search for “pet photography.” You know, for inspiration.

Google pet photography BLOG

Seems simple enough, right? In actual practice, it was much more complicated: ROCKY WOULD NOT SIT STILL.

First, he was twitchy as he stalked the squirrels.

Rocky 1030508 BLOG

Then he flopped around on the floor.

Rocky 1030596 CR BLOG

Finally, he got back on the table and threatened me with death.

Rocky 1030562 CL BLOG

Rocky 1030562 CR BLOG

And when none of those performances elicited the petting he so richly deserved, Rocky began head-butting my camera.

Bonk.

Rocky 1030440 BLOG

Bonk!

Rocky 1030408 BLOG

BONK!!

Rocky 1030409 BLOG

Covered in fur and cat spit, I finally convinced the animal to cooperate. Alas, even my best efforts fell short of the Googly goodness.

Rocky 1030671 BLOG

Rocky 1030633 CX BLOG

Rocky 1030330 BLOG

But you know what? That’s OK. None of us can excel at everything, right?

And anyway, at least one image did spark my imagination to take Rocky’s portrait in a whole new direction.

Rocky Cologne market 1020453 BLOG

Rocky Venice Gondoli 1560088 BLOG

Rocky Paris 1010494 BLOG

Rocky over NYC 1120528 BLOG

The moral of today’s story:

If at first you don’t succeed, FAIL HARDER.



121 Responses to “Fail harder”

  1. Inspiring… Thanks!

  2. I can’t believe it but I am beginning to really like cats. Three of the kids have them and I think they are a hoot. And hard to get a good photo of too! Thanks for the fun blog!

    • 4 hmunro

      I’m with you, Tom: I’ve always been more of a dog person, but thanks to Rocky cats are really growing on me! Though those sharp pointy teeth still scare me a bit … 😉

  3. Great story and excellent pictures.. All of them!

    • 6 hmunro

      How kind of you. I had fun taking the photos, that’s for sure! Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  4. Very fun post heather. I especially liked how, after wrestling with Rocky to take a portrait worth of a Google search, you took it one step further and made him a flying superstar, sort of.

    • 9 hmunro

      ¡Muchas gracias, querido Alberto! I’d thought about outfitting him with a kitty cape for his New York fly-over, but just plain ran out of time. It’s good to know the joke still carries, though! 🙂

  5. Haha, love it! I read the article too, following your link to it. What a great idea! Let’s celebrate failure too. I actually read a Facebook post a little while about someone who felt they weren’t really trying if they hadn’t failed at at least one thing that week! Certainly puts failure into perspective

    • 11 hmunro

      I love the idea of viewing failure as a sign that you’re at least trying something new, Terry. Google has certainly taken that viewpoint to an extreme by actually rewarding some of its employees for failure: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-25880738
      Isn’t that refreshing?

      • What a great article. “You must reward people for failing….if not they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs.” Love to know what they actually do to reward them. And the failures they are talking about have to do with stepping out of the boat and shooting for the stars. What better kind of failure is there? Very refreshing indeed, and thank you for putting this up for us to read.

  6. Reblogged this on FINDING.MY.WAY.

  7. Very nice post 😊
    A bit different take on success. Many say failure is the path for opportunities.
    But you made me think… The harder we fail then things appear more in black and white. We either continue our efforts with more zeal and finally succeed or we just let go. Them there is no hanging in between

    • 15 hmunro

      I do think failure can be a path to opportunity — if we learn from our mistakes. That’s certainly been true for a lot of inventors and scientists over the years.

      Thank you for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to leave your kind comment.

  8. Super article! loved it!

  9. Failures make us better. As for me on socusl media …i wont say i am highly curated – lol … i am publish happy proof read later …i know mistake… huge mistake.
    Commenting via my smartphone and fat finger typos glore.

    Heather thanks for sharing this was a good read. Sorry i have been absent from visiting your blog. New job settling…still settling in. Have a good week bella

  10. You and the cat started to get it together in the last two shots!

    • 22 hmunro

      Indeed, Jim! I left with a whole new respect for professional pet photographers who somehow manage to get their subjects to settle down in minutes, instead of in the hour it took me.

  11. 23 chubbysmom

    The combination of failures and success is like savory and sweetness (salted caramel lol) and makes our stories that more interesting… Thanks for sharing!

  12. 26 chubbysmom

    Reblogged this on Amuse Pet and commented:
    The combination of failures and success is like savory and sweetness (salted caramel lol) and makes our stories that much more interesting…

  13. It’s always amusing trying to photograph a cat. I love my cats to death, but they’re not exactly cooperative in that department either.

    Anyway, I love that last line. Fail Harder. Such a wonderful message. Lots of failure on the road to success.

    • 29 hmunro

      What *is* it with cats and cameras? It’s almost as if they know what cameras do, and deliberately set out to thwart our photographic efforts. Of course, I also say that about cats and diets, baths, leashes … LOL.

      As for that “fail harder” message: I can’t remember where I first read that phrase, but I loved it at first sight as well. There’s something liberating about the idea of embracing our face-plants as cheerfully as we do our successes, isn’t there?

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and especially for brightening my day with your kind comment.

  14. Rocky is so Vogue.

    • 31 hmunro

      Agreed! I would be a supermodel if I had a tiny fraction of his confidence and style.

  15. you actually can see then how much a person would do to get it done or get something he wanted to do but fails of it… but it inspires me that if you work hard you’ll be smart and knowing what you really would like to do and that it makes you happy

    • 33 hmunro

      I can’t imagine a better way to spend your life than doing something that makes you happy! That way, whether you fail at it or succeed, at least you were happy. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  16. I love the head-butt photos! And I think, despite your concerns, the pictures of Rocky when he finally settled down are very charming.
    I wrote a post on my blog on a related theme – what you can learn from doing something badly: https://allaboutwork.org/2013/08/09/why-its-good-to-be-bad-at-something/

    • 35 hmunro

      I loved, loved, LOVED your post, Fiona! Hadn’t ever considered being bad at something a benefit before, but you make a pretty compelling case. I think I’ll go home this evening and play my guitar extra-badly in your honor. 🙂

  17. Reblogged this on 2016 Adventures.

  18. Nice one! Really enjoyed it

  19. Such a lovely and funny read Heather. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s so true….sometimes we tend to get so caught up with promoting and publishing out best set of images and hope for the best when in fact sharing the trials and tribulations that went into creating those ‘well polished’ gems can in fact turn out to be the real head turners lol. I absolutely adore cats and Rocky just has me smitten. I loved all the images – great catalogue. 😃

    • 40 hmunro

      Thank you for making my day with your kind words, Sóla! I’m pretty smitten with Rocky myself, even with all of his kitty squirming. 🙂 And thank you for the reassurance that I haven’t gone down *too* many pegs in your estimation for having aired my “photographic laundry.” 😀

  20. Awww such a warm read-thanks Heather for pointing out the importance of being real.

    • 42 hmunro

      Authenticity should be one of simplest and most natural things, shouldn’t it — how paradoxical that it’s one of the hardest things to achieve as a human being. Thank you so much for stopping by, Fezile, and especially for taking the time to comment! I greatly appreciate it.

  21. I truly LOVE this, had to share!

    • 44 hmunro

      Thank you so much for stopping by — especially since it introduced me to your wonderful blog! My heart goes out to you for having to battle this terrible disease, but I’m also inspired by how you’re embracing life and finding ways to travel anyway. As they’d say in France, “Bon courage” to you!

  22. OMG….i love what you have done actually enjoyed myself reading through.
    great work

  23. I love that resume! Never seen anything like it! And, your cat portraits turned out fantastic anyway, very realistic, and true to Rocky’s spirit, I think 🙂

    • 49 hmunro

      Isn’t that resume wonderful, Tasha? I loved it so much I started crafting one of my own. It got too long pretty quickly, though. 🙂 And thank you for the kind words about the snapshots. Rocky’s parents seemed pretty smitten, so that’s what counts.

  24. Reblogged this on EFFET PAPILLON and commented:
    This is one of the most interesting thoughts i have come across. i myself would never have thought of it that way

  25. Thank you for this! That resume idea is genius….as are your cat photos. 🙂

  26. Haha I LOVE the cat pictures!!

  27. Great reminder for a rough day!

    • 57 hmunro

      Well said! Hope you don’t have too many of those, though. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  28. funny post

  29. a good one 🙂

  30. great article! your cat is amazing in every angle and on each photo! 🙂

    • 63 hmunro

      Thank you! I’ll pass on your compliments; I think he’ll be very flattered. 😀

  31. 64 Pam Lomax

    Thank you. Just what I needed

  32. 66 blogsmartmusic

    WOW ! its a Nice post

  33. Way to much inspirational and motivational….Thanku and love u for this..!!❤

  34. what a wonderful piece of advice x

  35. 72 milestone

    Interesting and different. Keep it up!
    hope you’ll visit mine also. Thanks

  36. I saw the original fail CV and thought it was so refreshing to see someone admit that things don’t always go as we’d like! I thought your post was funny and similarly refreshing: something that can be hard to find in blogging these days.

    Lisabeth

  37. This is hilarious, I’m brand new to blogging and this was a perfect read for where I’m at in my blog and also in my life. Thank you for sharing this!

    • 77 hmunro

      I’m pleased and flattered that it spoke to you. Best wishes with your new blog (and in life as well). Thank you for stopping by!

  38. Priceless experiment and reading.no one knows how many drafts had Beethoven before he finished his moonlight sonata

    • 79 hmunro

      I’d like to believe that the great geniuses didn’t need drafts (and never made mistakes) but I think you’re probably right that Beethoven crumpled a lot of paper while writing the Moonlight Sonata (which is one of my all-time favorite piano pieces, by the way …). Thank you so much for stopping by, Victor!

  39. Love this!! definitely something we can all relate to!!

    • 82 hmunro

      I’d say “keep failing,” but it sounds funny. So I’ll just thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  40. Muy buen articulo

  41. One of my few cat-sitting gigs, eons ago, ended prematurely when I locked the keys in the townhouse WITH the kitty for an entire week. But she survived. She was just a drama queen, like Rocky. Hahaha! I finished Amy Leach’s collection of essays last weekend, Heather. Thank you, again. I have so many favorites out of the collection, like the pandas 🙂 I hope you had (are having?) a nice summer……
    -Jason

    • 86 hmunro

      AAAAUGHHH! Your cat-sitting experience sounds like a scene straight from hell. I can only imagine your anguish *for an entire week,* Jason. But we can laugh about it now, right? 🙂 And I’m so glad you liked May Leach’s essays. Given your keen observations of the world and your wonderful way with words, I thought you’d appreciate her writing. Cheers to you from sunny Minnesota — and wishing you a good rest of the summer too.

  42. The importance of failure to push down our ego and push up our work moral! So true, especially for artists and performers!

  43. Lol, love this! Thank you for reminding people that a photo shoot is never as easy as people think. As a wedding photographer, I was amazed at the expectations people had for their photos. Magazine quality with no budget. You’re right, for every great shot, there are hundreds of crappy ones.

    • 90 hmunro

      You’re a wedding photog, Shanon? [Heather bows in humility and deep respect]
      I tried that *once* and immediately vowed “never again.” As you say, the expectations are astronomical, and the rewards miniscule. But on the flip side, if you can do a wedding competently, you can shoot anything else. So hats off to you!

  44. Great article! I fail often and this is a great reminder that it is ok! Thank you x

    • 92 hmunro

      To paraphrase Lao Tsu, “It doesn’t matter how many times we fall; what matters is how many times we get back up.” 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

  45. Love love love this post. Great one

  46. Great article! I’m good at failure =)

  47. Love this! Failing just means you were brave enough to try! 🙂

    • 97 hmunro

      What a great way of looking at it — very well said! Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  48. Love this! Failure just means you were brave enough to try!

  49. **it happens)) Though keep trying))
    I do this with my production))

    • 100 hmunro

      The “keep trying” part is so important isn’t it, Ed? Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Thank you so much for stopping by!

  50. Failing harder is something I know all too well… It teaches resilience and shapes character… I fail and that is why I succeed… Great post!

    • 102 hmunro

      Excellent point! You’ve clearly learned valuable lessons from your failures. Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for your thoughtful comment.

  51. I absolutely adore this post. It’s encouraging to know that even the brightest fail but more importantly than them failing is the fact that they kept going. Also, your photo shoot with Rocky was amazing! I love all of photos especially the ones at the end. Thanks for sharing! 😉

    • 104 hmunro

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Marie (and my apologies for the delay in replying). You are so right in observing that the important thing in life is to keep moving. If we can learn from our failures that’s a bonus, but at a minimum we must be careful to not wallow in them and get stuck. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  52. Fail harder! Words to live by indeed. I love your kitty and I laughed at the altered photos. Funny indeed!

  53. My god, you’re hilarious – love it! And Rocky is wonderful. Love when cats head-bonk you. Charming, every time “)

    • 110 hmunro

      In Rocky’s case, I think the head-bonking is out of frustration that I have two hands and neither of them is petting him, LOL. But he never has to bonk for very long because he’s such a cutie I can’t resist him. 🙂

      • Love this – cats can often be more insistent in asking for attention. I’m allergic, BUT can never resist petting them ; p Head butting the camera gave you some great shots!

  54. Reblogged this on Trisha McElvany and commented:
    Anybody can do anything with practice. Learning is a part of life; don’t be afraid to fail! Mental illness can hold you captive and convince you not to try anything new. Mental illness can make your mistakes feel monumental. But YOU are CAPABLE and WORTHY of learning through trial and error just like everyone else on this planet.

  55. I absolutely love that tag line “if at first you don’t succeed, fail harder”. It’s just beautiful

    • 116 hmunro

      I’m so glad this spoke to you! Thank you for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  56. This is beautifully crafted. i hope delve into photography someday,too. its a beautiful world in its right.

    • 118 hmunro

      Thank you so much! I hope you *will* delve into photography, Steve — it may just become one of the most rewarding things in your life (as it has in mine). Cheers!

  57. I like the phrase “Googly Goodness”.

    I think I am a fan.
    Not the stalking type!


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