I’m going to tell you about one of my most epic failures, and it has to with my coaching business.
When I was a new coach, I tried doing everything I could to build my business. I was fresh, inspired, and I wanted to make an impact in peoples lives.
This was back in the day before social media and the online world as we know it.
As a new coach, I knew I had to get in front of people somehow so I thought I would start doing lunch and learns. I’d never done one before, but I was willing to give it a try.
My mom had been a real estate agent and she said realtor offices regularly held them, so maybe focus on them. That day I emailed every single realtor office in Calgary.
Good news! A few weeks later I got a bite!
It was a small office, and a date was set for the following week.
I worked all week on this presentation. I got an easel, flip chart, wrote inspiring quotes, and practiced in front of all my friends.
Then the day arrived.
I put on my best dress, smart heels, did my hair and makeup, and then nervously drove to their location.
I was there 15 minutes early, and the manager came to get me 10 minutes later than our set time.
While he was walking me into the boardroom, he happened to mention that the realtors didn’t know I was coming until just now.
“Oh,” I said. I had no idea what to do.
So I proceeded ahead with my presentation through their glares, judgment, and apparent boredom.
It was awful.
Afterwards I passed around feedback forms (because I guess I like abuse).
When I got back to my car I went through the forms and read some of the meanest things anyone could have said. They totally picked me apart, right down to claiming I didn’t look professional because I wasn’t wearing pantyhose.
Just so you know, some of them were wearing zip up hoodies.
I was devastated.
This was all new to me, and it was hard, and it was a huge leap of faith for me to even do this talk because I had never done any public speaking before.
I cried all the way home and called my coach.
Thank GOD she was there and available to talk. She was, and still is one of my angels.
I explained what happened through my sobs and she asked me the same 3 questions she always asked me:
Nothing, I said. The whole thing was terrible. The talk sucked, and I sucked doing it.
“What didn’t work?”
Everything. I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t prepared enough for it. They didn’t like me.
“What would you do differently next time?”
I said there’s never going to be a next time!
This is where she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received about public speaking, and didn’t know how to handle a crowd:
They didn’t know you were coming, so they weren’t enrolled from the beginning with what you were saying. Acknowledge the white elephant in the room and give them the opportunity to leave if they want to. Then they would feel that they had a choice in staying for the talk, and would be enrolled in what you have to say.
She also said that this happens to everyone at some point, and that she was sorry it happened to me on my first one.
She gave me a few other pointers, but most importantly she helped me reframe what was theworstthingever to a learning experience that I could build on.
This was almost 10 years ago now, and this phone call is still one of the most powerful memories I have.
This experience could have been one of those times, where I said “fuck it,” and decided to never speak publicly again. Or worse, stop reaching out with my business all together and play small.
Instead, my coach expertly navigated me through the experience and helped me learn, and grow from it, so I COULD do it again and be more confident next time.
This is the number one thing strong people do when faces with failure:
They reframe the experience into one of growth and learning.
Strong people know that failure is just a starting point, not the end.
It is where true greatness starts from, because once you know what doesn’t work, you can build on it to create something wonderful.
Life has never had starts and stops, it is a constant flowing process of giving and receiving.
You giving of yourself and receive feedback, give again, and tweak again, until it shapes something closer to your aim.
This isn’t easy. It takes humility because your ego needs to be set aside for the important work to be done.
It also takes a hell of a lot of courage to get back up, clarity in your vision for motivation, and confidence to not take it personally and persevere.
It also helps when you have support along the way, just like I did and still do, because nobody does this alone.
I’d love to hear from you now in the comments: how do you handle failure? What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through failure?