What Comedian Jim Carrey Taught Me About Failure

Someone I used to work with just sent me a text about her getting a raise at her job, and I had to laugh – though it’s not really funny. After giving one precious year of her life in service to Corporate America, she was given a favorable review from her boss and a whopping hourly raise of … are you ready? … 26 cents.

Yes, cents.

Right after that, I watched this amazing video of actor and comedian Jim Carrey giving a 1-minute clip from a university commencement speech. I was so affected by it, I posted it for you to watch – because I thought it would inspire you, too. (For me, it is life-changing.)


As for ME, Mr. Carrey, YES, I can freely admit that – for the last few years, anyway – I got scared. I made the conservative, practical decision and decided to take a couple of actual corporate-type jobs (granted, they were at-home sales jobs so I got to work in my PJs, but I digress). I was successful at my positions, but horribly miserable at the same time.

I remember back then how I convinced myself I could balance my music with these jobs. Nothing could have been further from the truth. What I did was actually throw myself off balance. The once clear, successful path I used to walk gradually became twisted and choked with unwanted vegetation … like losing my way in a dense jungle.

The last several years I have done less and less entertaining. That means I was not doing the very thing I was put on this Earth to do, which is to … SING … ACT … ENTERTAIN … MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY … SERVE MY PEEPS!

Is this business tough? Heck, yeah! It is not for the faint of heart – but it has given me thick skin and grown hair on my chest. I even had to shave it. (Kidding!)

I see and hear about so many of my performer friends whose once promising careers are folding around them. They’re getting ready to throw in the towel by taking the conservative approach and either giving up “the biz” or electing to kill themselves (creatively speaking) by working a day job while burning the midnight oil at their craft. Most recently I had a conversation with a musician I admire beyond belief – he is AMAZING – who was planning to sell all his gear to become a truck driver because that is what his dad did, and his dad seemed OK with it. I am not sure if he has actually done this yet, but I empathized and asked him to take a deep breath and not rush into something that will have life-altering consequences … to take the time to really consider if he’s making the right decision.

When I reflect back at my entrepreneurial self, I started in this business 25 years ago. I worked my way up from low-paying and often free performances and shows to becoming a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). I conceived, wrote and starred in my own self-produced cabaret shows. I booked oodles of other artists in a circuit that I had really started to create opportunities for myself because I believe there is more than enough room for all of us in this business. I became a symphony soloist with two phenomenal, fully orchestrated shows and, to date, have sang close to 10 symphonic shows. I became the owner and producer of my own production companies in which I have sold in excess of 50,000 seats (and that is just in Florida – I don’t have the numbers for New England and North Carolina) … and at the height of that series, I had nearly 400 season subscribers.

I have, when asked, handled the promotion and marketing for a handful of performer friends, series and venues – and sold out their shows and venues as well. I also cut a CD (Let Me Be Strong) which I constantly use to raise money for other organizations. (What is really cool is that my CD is available in about a half-dozen countries.)

So I ask myself today: “What was I scared of?” Then I realized I just needed a break. My reality is that THIS business has paid me my ENTIRE adult life … so I will consider the LAST few years as a much needed break to prepare me to make the NEXT 25 years even BIGGER and BETTER.

As Jim Carrey stated so simply yet so powerfully: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

That is exactly my plan, Mr. Carrey. Thanks for the reminder.

With a song from my heart to your ears …


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2 thoughts on “What Comedian Jim Carrey Taught Me About Failure

  1. Love it Val, yes I understand the .26 cents thing, of course that is Corporate America for you, but not everyone has YOUR Talent either, well said my friend, you know you have a great gift, besides just being you, you are so wonderful and talented, one heck of a rare mixture. I love you honey, and hope all your dreams continue to come true (cause you have the talent and put forth the effort), you deserve all the best my dear friend,

    • Hi Christie,
      Thank you for that very thoughtful post. Pursuing your dreams is not limited to only those with creative talent. It doesn’t have to be singing, acting, writing or painting. I’ve known people whose dream it was to start their own business, and they did – as electricians, network marketers, selling mattresses, etc. Take yourself, for instance. I know you can make your way around the kitchen. If cooking were something you loved so much that you dreamed of having your own restaurant, then I would encourage you to shoot for the stars. Someone who comes to mind and can be very entrepreneurial is our friend Regina. She has an amazing skill of detailing cars and she is great at cleaning houses. She has parlayed both of these into successful businesses of her own at times, as opposed to working for other people. Don’t get me wrong – would never tell someone NOT to be in Corporate American or not be happy with their .26 cent raise if they’re content with that. My blog is for those folks who want something more than the status quo, who feel they were put here on Earth for another purpose. Remember what Thoreau said about most men leading lives of quiet desperation (women, too). For those who have a dream burning inside of them but instead opt for the practical and “safe” path – which is not because job security is never guaranteed – I am reminded of what Jim Carrey stated so simply yet so powerfully: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” For me, I know if I don’t decide on my own path, someone else will decide it for me … someone who doesn’t care whether I’m fulfilled or happy or not.

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