I imagine you are oversimplifying anesthesiology and, hopefully, you didn't have too many failures - at least fewer than than 34 of 36 "failures" in photography, so to speak!!
In one sense, given my style of photographing nature and outdoors, primarily landscapes, I hope my work is calming (but not too anesthetic.) Anyone can shoot shocking, repulsive, make-you-think photography - just take a camera on to any one of a number of street corners and back-alleys of any major city: the shock and awe stare us in the face. I know it's Dangerous to say "anyone", but it's actually easier than one thinks, the users of Lu-La just don't seem to choose that path, at least not by the work shown here.
Much of the photography we see here is competent, but pedestrian, but that's part of the raison d'ętre of this site: for users to learn from the feedback they get. It's interesting to note how some people post photos, receive feedback, perhaps not to their liking, and we never hear from them again. Others post and build feedback into what they are doing and are better for it. I can't begin to imagine all I have learned at LuLa, not just from posting my own photos, but from reading feedback from others.
As far as one's own photography, yes, it is tough to measure - and a $$ figure only measure success in one way. I measure my own work by asking myself two questions: Has this been "done" before? If so, how can I make it different, my own? More often than not, it has been "done" already, but not where I live and/or not in these circumstances and if it has, I work to make it unique, but true to my own vision. Yes, they are "pretty" pics for the most part, and I don't apologize for that. But I do know that people do think differently after seeing my work, not radically different, but it does open their eyes to different ways of seeing places they've been to a dozen times before.
I also use many of the fine photographers here as a yardstick. Is the work I'm doing on par with some of the regular posters here of compelling work? Not usually, but sometimes. Hopefully it's improving over the years!