I think it is good to be honest about failure. Sugarcoating things only leads to feeling bad deep down inside where it festers, become stress, and takes a few more days off our lives.
My definition of failure: An action, event, or attempt that did not work or did not lead to a satisfactory result.
Failures can turn into successes, but some or many will just be failures. Failure is subjective - in the eye of the beholder.
A race car does not finish the race or places unsatisfactorily.
A souffle does not rise, or rises and then falls.
A boy asks a girl out on a date and she says no.
Lisa stands in a Barnes & Noble in Albuquerque wanting to talk about breakthroughs, and nobody comes or stops to chat. Yep, I had a failure tonight.
But there is no mystery why it happened. This is where the "not goo enough" from the title comes in:
- The bookstore event was never on their website or in their newsletter and there were no posters. B&N requires event information 2 months in advance or it does not get in. The ABQ event was one of the last I secured, and so the time window had closed on their in-store promotions. The in-store folks were very nice, the 2 month time window is a corporate policy.
- I and my PR Manager tried but failed to get any media coverage.
- The event was held the day after a holiday when lots of people take vacation (or are in catch up mode at work). I don't have any other events this week for this very reason.
- I had no local blogger or blog reader contacts. In most of the cities I am visiting, I have wonderful folks helping me get the word out about the events. Not in ABQ - I guess it is not a big business blog town.
- A few folks sent out email blasts on my behalf, but they were unsuccessful.
Sometimes the right answer is to NOT do something. In hindsight, I did not have enough going for me on this event and probably should not have booked it at the last minute. I let high hopes get the better of my judgment. When I talk to people about the importance of butterfly flaps (small actions that can lead to big results) I stress that they need to be directionally correct - not just actions for action sake.
My lessons learned:
1. Choose wisely. I will consider last minute private events (within a company or organization) but not last minute public events (unless there is a clear way to promote them).
2. Once I choose/commit, be more relentlessly in action. Don't give up. Do more.
I know this all sounds so pragmatic and neutral - almost like a robot. I can assure you that my heart sank when this evening's event failed. I was sad and felt embarrassed standing in front of a table of books all alone. Our emotions are important and real AND we need to prevent them from hold us back. We need to move forward. Now that this is done, it is done. I am ready to think about how to make the next event twice as successful.
When failures happen again and again - or so it seems - it can be very tough to get through the sadness and regret to a place of reinvention. Here's the wee mantra I use to help get through sadness from failure:
It is what it is. It's done.
If I dwell on this I will get more of the same and I don't want that.
The possibilities are numerous and I can make a big impact on others if I focus and stay in action.
Let it go - the sadness. In the scheme of things, this is tiny.
My passion and commitment will imbue those I meet.
I am very lucky and life is great.
I can learn something from this and reduce failures in the future.
I feel like this is a failure, but relative to what matters, it almost does not even matter.
How do you talk yourself down from the ledge of sadness and regret from failure?
One of the questions that came to mind as I was driving back to my hotel tonight was, "what else could I be doing to get the word out about generating breakthroughs to more people?" Let me know if you have any ideas!