Well if you’re not bragging about your failures, maybe you should be… Failures are not just lessons to you but can be lessons of inspiration to thousands of others who have failed just like you. It’s a beacon of hope that there is a way back. Sometimes the hardest thing about failure is to see the lesson in it. Sometimes it’s easy…Any which way you look at failure, it’s good to make you stop and take a second look at how you’re doing things. Sharing your failures speaks to the very heart of your brand authenticity. It says you’re brave to expose your humiliation. It says that you’re giving and honest to want others to benefit from your past pain. It says you can laugh at yourself. Above all, it says that you’re confident enough to show the world that you’ve grown from it.
The story of my failure
Here’s a good one for you from the archives of the Chala failures.
I loved speaking at the Toronto chapter of a large business association. It was a no brainer when their London chapter came calling for me to speak on the same subject of “Coaching your team to success”. After a long and ardous drive out of Toronto, I arrived at the venue which was a pub (!) Low and behold, everyone at the meeting was over 65 and was either retired or about to retire. None had direct reports or a “team” hence making the topic completely irrelevant.
The food killed my speech
I was scheduled to speak at the end of a 6 course meal full of mountains of meat and potatoes. The service at the pub was slow and the dinner stretched out until 9pm. I will let you imagine what happens to a group of retirees at that hour with a meal like that in them. Half the group took off and the other half was almost asleep.
Wonky tech slayed the audience
The technology to set up my laptop and projector was another nightmare. An old-fashioned silver foil screen abandoned at a retirement home basement had been brought out. Once we put it up, it released a foul smell, adding to the ambiance.
As I started my presentation across from the pub kitchen, the cook and the bartender started arguing loudly and refused to be hushed. The fan directly above my head rattled so loudly that most of the remaining audience couldn’t even hear me.
Is this an episode of Three’s Company?
About 5 minutes into this atrocity, I couldn’t help it and started laughing. I said bluntly to the audience “this isn’t working for you, is it?” They all nodded in agreement. After a quick impromptu live coaching of a kind volunteer, I called it a night. It must’ve been the quickest escape I’ve made to my car after a talk that I’ve given!
Why do I tell this humiliating story of a failed speech at the start of my seminars on how to public speak to get clients? It’s because it humanizes me. Makes me authentic in how I also have failures and am capable of openly admitting my mistakes.
I will never again be caught unawares presenting the wrong topic to a wrong audience. I will know that an instructional training based PowerPoint presentation is not the best fit for a post dinner pub setting.
Most of all, I will know to pull the plug or change the plan earlier when all signs are pointing to a screaming failure. What’s the failure you should be bragging about?
- Failure Is the New Success (psychologytoday.com)
- Make Personal Failure Worthwhile: 3 Ways (inc.com)
- 6 Things Comedians Can Teach You About Public Speaking (openforum.com)