How to Persevere Through Failure

There’s hardly anything I enjoy more than attending a great event with an inspiring teacher, other like-minded learners and good food and drinks. That’s my idea of a damn good time.

As such, I want to hold events where I am able to give that same knowledge and pleasure to others. I want to teach what I know, bring others in to teach what they know, and attract a group of adult learners with clear intentions of getting the most out of such an event. I have held one (relatively successful) event and just tried to do another one. But I ran into a snag.

In my last attempt, I was ready to launch an event and my goal was to get 100 people to attend. I had booked the venue, I developed the curriculum, I engaged other, extraordinary speakers to share their expertise, but I did not attract enough people to break even on the event. I had to cancel the event or lose a boatload of money. I felt my integrity was at stake – but I also didn’t want to make a poor business decision just to “save face.” I felt like such a failure. Still do.

Embracing failure is part of the stepping stones to success. But, how do you “embrace failure?” It’s easy to think it’s a good idea when you’re not in the midst of one.

So, I hope what I’m saying helps you, because it will suck if I’m putting myself through this for nothing! Here’s what I’m doing to embrace my own:

1. Review what I could’ve done better. Seems obvious but we often skip a real analysis. In retrospect, while I gave myself enough time to develop curriculum and agenda, engage speakers, produce marketing tools (web page, logo, posters) book hotel, meals, etc., I did not give myself enough time to consistently market the event. Having researched the successful events of others, they generally give themselves three to six months of just getting the word out. I gave myself less than two.

2. Reveal the hard truth. We cannot truly learn if we spend our energy hiding mistakes. For those who DID register for my event, I had to refund their money, tell them that I didn’t get enough people and that I couldn’t break even on the event. Ugh. I didn’t say I was just postponing; because my confidence was shaken and I didn’t want to put myself into a worse position. So, I just told them I would let them know what I intend to do. Now, I’m also sharing it with you. You may judge me. I’m aware of that, but I’m ok with it. Because others of you may take away something valuable here.

3. Rest. Have you ever gone on vacation and then immediately get sick? The day after I cancelled my event and made the calls, I came down with the worst cold/flu I’ve had in ages. It knocked me on my butt. I decided it was my body telling me to take a rest and to let the disappointment run through me along with the germs. It worked. After 3 days, I felt better.

It was certainly not my first failure and it most likely won’t be my last (if only!). But it certainly won’t stop me from my journey. Now I look at those three “R’s” as the arcs of the circle of embracing failure and persevering.

What do you do to make the most of your stumbles? What strategies do you use to persevere?

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