Despite the lessons I write about failure, I try to avoid them. Just like any other human being. Failure is not something I have built into my normal operation mode. I don’t wake up in the morning with the idea of planning a failure. I prefer planning success. But sometimes reality catches on.
Recently I was preparing a workshop on breaking through patterns. The workshop was to be a test in several ways.
It would be held in a new city and country where I didn’t have any significant network. So I was happy to find a partner that wanted to activate its network. And our efforts were fruitful above expectations: I had 18 bookings.
Secondly I would be trying the concept of validation afterwards. Validation afterwards means there is no upfront investment for participants. They only pay at the end on the basis of their perceived value about the workshop. I give every participant a blank invoice, leave them alone for a couple of minutes till they hand me over a filled invoice. Including their price for the workshop.
I was all set when the afternoon before the workshop I received a notification. Someone pulled out. Nothing to worry about. The usual stuff. I always expect 1 or 2 persons not to show up. But then another notification came in, and another, and another. It just kept raining notifications the whole afternoon! My mood dropped significantly with every cancellation.
By the end of the working day I had 11 persons on the list. I cheered myself up by saying to myself that 11 was still more (by one) than I had expected in the first place. And I made a few adjustments to be able to accommodate the smaller group.
The next day only 6 showed up.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
A failure! A miserable failure! But of course I gave the 6 participants the best I had. And I did forget during my workshop. It was fun working with the group that day. But afterwards I also felt anger and amazement. What did I do wrong? Since when are people so rude not to even tell that they won’t be coming? And what should I do next time to make it a success?
On the way back many answers popped up in my head. The emotional outburst was apparently so strong that I quickly saw how to radically change my approach to my workshops. The learning curve is steep when you fail miserably, when you fail gloriously.
I lost financially, without question. But I’m now working on a new series of workshops with a different feel, a different approach and much more targeted for a specific market.
And of course I’ll build in failure, to get an idea on what works and what not. The challenge is to fail as gloriously again. But then better.