Sometimes You Need to Fail to Win

Sometimes You Need to Fail to Win

The reality of life is that sometimes you need to fail to win.

Once upon a time, I took failures to heart and thought they were a direct cause of my actions. It sent me reeling into depression, self-doubt, and other self-destructive habits.

Instead of realizing that failure is a win with the lessons it provides us, it was easy to follow the rabbit hole of "I'm not good enough" to the point where nothing was learned or won.

Today, I want to share a couple of things with you.

  1. If you did not know it already, failures are life's building blocks that provide valuable lessons to us to create our best wins.
  2. With that said, I want to share how the rabbit hole made nothing out of something that I already had, and my future plans that start immediately where I am correcting course and sharing all transparency with you and how this can help you in your goals also. Stick with me til the end, and I have something special to share with you.

A slap in the face

Sometimes You Need to Fail to Win

In the past year and a couple of odd months now, as you know if you have been following me for some time, I re-branded from Charlie Naebeck Photography to Charlie Naebeck Co.

My wife and I moved to Colombia at the start of 2022 to get married, and we had no idea of what a process it was going to be to get visas squared away, and the ups and downs that the journey would take us through including the death of our dear Pinina recently.

I think it is an understatement to say that this has been one of the most challenging things that I have ever done in my life with our transition. Before this, I traveled the world as an international photographer working for high-end prestigious names. I thought that was challenging.

Yet, I am going to be honest. No matter if you believe in religion or spirituality or not, God always breaks you down and tests you before you get your biggest wins. I have seen several times where everything fails before something huge wins. The secret is to continue.

There have been many trials in the almost 2 years that we have lived in Colombia from things as simple as language barriers and learning curves of a new language for me to learn how to navigate and stay safe in a foreign country, to building a new business on top of my old business and transitioning into something new for growth. Nothing has been easy.

Yet, I think that there is something in all of us that drives us. Maybe it is a greater power, or maybe it is our innermost desires. And in that moment where our head, heart, and gut align to scream from the top of the mountains one million times YES, you know that you are on the right path. Learn to trust that, and you are unstoppable.

My big mistake

So here's the thing. I was so gung-ho on the oh shit moment that I had when my remote jobs told me that they did not want me working in Colombia and we parted ways, that I failed to realize I had the answers all along to solve one of my biggest hurdles.

When I started Charlie Naebeck Co, I threw the spaghetti to the wall as an Italian Grandma once told me in one of my friend's homes in Italy to see if it stuck. In fact, I created 42 projects before I had another oh shit moment and an equal number of websites for these projects.

The truth is that when I was back in high school in a graphic design course, I did the same thing. I had grand dreams of being an entrepreneur and starting multiple companies to make lots of money. It even got to the point where I made business cards on the school's dime for every single one of my ideas instead of doing the assignments that the teacher gave us.

And fast forward to 2023, well, honestly not much had changed. I was dreaming it, but I was not DOING it.

In the past few months, as I feverishly tried to keep up with content creation for all of my pages and projects, I felt burnt out and frazzled.

I fell back into old habits of drinking daily to break my promise to myself of sobriety for my health, I was not sleeping well, and I was not my best self to take care of myself or my family.

I was so gung-ho on making money to save my family from our visa situation to keep us together, that I forgot one of the most important things. If I am not well, none of my projects or people that I love are well either.

So as an oarsman might do in a flooding boat, I started to bail out. I am killing the projects that do not speak to my head, my heart, and my gut, and I realized that I needed to focus on the things that I knew best all along - Photography, Teaching, Mentoring, Coding, and Coffee.

These five things have been with me for the past 34 years that I have wielded a camera in some form or another, and they are my strength and my passion.

These things were also the ONLY things out of 42 projects that actually brought in any income for my family to support us in the last year anyway after I started analyzing everything.

Now that the boat was floating again and the extra water had been shed, I went back to sobriety again. I am not going to lie I am a week and a couple of days back on the path again. My head is clearer, I have slept better, and I have found a new focus on both family and work.

It has also helped me be stronger for my family in light of our recent tragic loss of Pinina.

People who don't have a dog won't understand, but when you have a dog that loves you unconditionally, and that truly understands you, the pet becomes family and is never a pet again. That was Pinina for us. My wife had her for 12 wonderful years, and I got to spend 2 amazing years with her also when we got to Colombia.

We did get a Golden Retriever puppy named Ranger a month before Pinina passed, who has helped us along the way and who tried his best to support Pinina in their short time together when she was sick with constant vet visits. He has become my new studio assistant here at my feet every day as I write to you all on socials, email, or where we connect. He also keeps our two cats in line even though they have still had just a little interaction being we are trying to housebreak Ranger.

And with all of this, the slap in the face is lessened, and it makes things leaner, more efficient and focused more so than they have ever been.

The next chapter

As I wrote to you on the last note, I am all in on my new project Coffee x Cameras.

I find myself immensely inspired to inspire others. And this new series gives me that outlet and that connection with head, heart, and gut.

We just got the very first photographer interview done last Sunday. If you have not checked it out already, you can see the piece that I did with street and travel photographer Dan Ginn over on YouTube.

I feel that I am like a vessel that is absorbing energy right now from all of my projects that remained so that I can focus them on this one spot and give you all my best going forward.

I have moved my teaching, mentorships, website design, coffee brand, books, merch, and everything else over to And for once, I feel that it all works and fits into the puzzle.

In the next few months, I will slowly but surely be migrating away from the old websites to finish organizing everything in the new space. Once I do so, the old sites will redirect to the new site.

In the meantime though, I know the path that lies ahead, and I am excited to share it with you.

If you haven't already, please take a moment to follow and @coffeexcamerasseries over on Instagram. You can also connect on Facebook where I am going to be doing some live sessions to teach and inspire soon. And I cringe to say the next part, but heaven forbid I created a TikTok with my thoughts on social media and it brings new eyes and ears to the project. Or, you can go subscribe and watch everything in video content over on YouTube, which will be the hub for it all.

And with this said, I promised some special things to share with you:

  1. I am kicking off a brand new mentorship program where I am accepting individuals for a year-long intensive program with the goal in mind to explore your camera, develop a book, expand your writing, start a new business, or improve your life with 2-hour sessions every week. There are two seats filled already, and just 8 remaining I will top this out at 10 individuals being I want to make sure that I can give this my best attention. It is just $10,000 for the year right now, which is cheaper than a year of college, and gives you the direction and processes that you need to go forward. To apply, click here.
  2. I created a secret code for you to try my family's Colombian coffee over on the site. It is "I love coffee." This will give you 5% off of your first order for the month of October. I would highly recommend the Colombian roast and the Chocolate Hazelnut to start. There is also free shipping anywhere in the United States, and you can save on your coffee habit with the subscription plan and get your orders delivered to your door weekly, monthly, or how often you prefer.
  3. I am working on a new book where I am exploring the past work that I have completed in my photography career, and sharing stories, tips, and techniques. I always say that you have to explore the past to view the future. Once it is done, I will be dropping a FREE copy here to you on my mailing list as a thank you for being here. Anyone else who joins my mailing list before October 31st will also get a copy of the new book (tell your friends and contacts please). I promise that there are some very awesome stories that I have not told yet. Not even if you were in one of my classes. Sometimes fear holds us back. At this point, it is time to tell it all. Get your popcorn ready!
Oh, a very important thing. Make sure to add to your contacts in your email address book. Going forward I will be sending you updates from the new page. is going to become what it once was with a museum of my photography so to speak. You are welcome to check it out, but I will be sending you more exciting new things over on the page.

In the meantime, I have a question for you.

What is the biggest failure that you have had that led to one of your biggest wins in life?

Drop me a line and let me know. If you would like to workshop anything with me, I also have lessons on Zoom available on the new site also anywhere in the world.

Til next time,

Let's go!

Charlie Naebeck

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.