4 Things I Learned From Failure

Failure sucks. Although most of us hate when we don’t live up to the strict standards we impose on ourselves, sometimes failure can point us to a learning opportunity.

For example, several years ago I tried to start a weekend adult dance class followed by a social hour. I mean, we are talking about my two favorite things dance and wine! How could that go wrong??? Well, it did go wrong, and I ended up wasting six weeks of my Saturdays and walking away with a bruised ego. Here are a few things I learned:

First, the owner of the establishment pressured me to start before I was ready. I should have come armed with a firm date of when I would have all the necessary things prepared.

Second, we did a horrible job marketing the classes. At the time, my network wasn’t very big, and I wasn’t using social media as much as I should have been. We just thought we’d open the doors and people would flood in. Which leads me to my next fatal flaw…

Three, we had an explanation problem. My partner didn’t really understand how the classes would work and I did not do a good job of explaining it to her. Every time we talked about it, the concept changed. This resulted in her promoting it to the wrong people and turning away people who should have been there.

And lastly, I worked with someone who did not respect my work, and I allowed her to steamroll me. The reason she did not respect me is because I was meek, intimidated and unsure of myself. Once I lost her, it was over.

I could have avoided all this up front by having a precise definition of what my goals were. This would have helped me have more confidence to take control of the situation, set expectations and create a clear path to market the event. And just because someone is older or more experienced than you does not make them the authority on every subject. Everyone can benefit from fresh perspectives. You should never, ever let anyone intimidate you.  I don’t care who they are.

But today I am happy for the failure – it was a good lesson for me. It showed me that success depends on my frame of mind – not anyone else’s thoughts or actions. I am in charge of how things turn out, and that is mighty empowering don’t you think?

The next time I came to the table, you can bet I was ready.


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