Failure, and What I Did About It

Trophy

Guess what? I’m a winner. That’s right, a winner. Who has just canceled her fall book tour. Yep, the tour you all have been hearing so much about. And this winner is telling the whole world the honest truth – that she canceled the fall book tour because not enough people signed up.

A real winner, huh?

But according to writer Seth Godin, “Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.”

Phew. That’s a relief.

Bet you’ve been here, too. Maybe in a different way, but I’ll bet you’ve had a moment or two where you’ve had to ask yourself the question: Do I quit? Do I stick? What will people think?

I worried about that, too. I fretted: “If I can’t fill my book tour workshops, people will be surprised, they’ll think less of me and won’t hire me as a coach. I’ll be a loser.

But I am absolutely certain that there’s something to learn for me here in Failure Land, and maybe there’s something here for you, too. That’s why I’m not hiding the book tour cancellation, and why I’m not taking to my bed for three weeks with a case of Godiva.

I’ve been constructing events since I was a class officer in high school. I’ve done events for the President of the United States. My largest event? Over 250,000 people on the National Mall in DC. I know events. But I made some stupid mistakes organizing the book tour:

  1. A book called I Am Not Superwoman is going to attract women (duh) age 35-55 who have kids. And I selected the first couple weeks of the school year to launch my tour.  The busiest time of the year.  What was I thinking?
  2. I chose a Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee.  A football Saturday.  A home-game football Saturday.  In Tennessee.  Do I know nothing about the South?
  3. I priced the event based on comparable events friends have held around the country.  Not taking the recession into account.  Or the way credit has dried up.  Or how people are now saving.  Or the difficulties of the entrenched unemployed.  I was planning as if it’s still 2007. And it’s not.
  4. I called the book I Am Not Superwoman, which is catchy but is a hard sell to my guy clients and readers.  And there’s a bunch of you guy clients and readers.  I could have used a broader title to broaden the community who supports it.

And here’s the Magilla Gorilla of my mistakes:

I paid too much attention to people who told me I really “should” do a book tour to support this book.

And I knew better. This book didn’t really call for a tour. I really knew that, deep down.

Oh, the book is good.  Plenty of people have written about it here, here, here and here.  It’s a fast read, with plenty of useful, thoughtful ideas and tips.  I think you’ll like it if you haven’t picked up a copy yet.

But what I do every day is coach men and women executives to more fulfilling work.  And while the concept of Superwoman may tangentially fit, it’s not a perfect fit.

By giving too much weight to what others said I “should” do, I believe I confused you all.

But now, I want to encourage you.

You’re going to make mistakes.  You’re going to fail.  We all do.  As someone once said to me, “It’s not how you fall – everyone is going to fall – it’s how you bounce that matters.”

I’m telling you, publicly, about my mistakes to give you the space to take a look at your own.  Mistakes are not the end of the world, you know.  What you do is this:  you learn from your mistakes.  You take the gift that each mistake offers – because just like a Tootsie Roll Pop, there’s chewy goodness inside every failure – and you make next time better.

I’m re-focusing my work now on lower cost offerings, and free stuff, and other ways to support this book and my other work. Rather than being mired in my mistakes, I’m correcting myself and planning for the future.

Hey, it’s how you bounce.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m sorry about the book tour.

    But this? This post?

    Real.

    For all the buzz about being being authentic these days, so much of what’s out there kind of falls flat for me.

    Not this.

    Big respect. Big appreciation. Big thanks.

  2. says

    Wow, Michele. I just fell in love with you even more and have great respect for you opening up to help us all learn along with you. Your generosity takes my breath away.

    Thank you

  3. says

    God Bless You Michelle! I loved the book, even though from the beginning I knew I would never be Superwoman… even if I do hang out in Key West all the time… it’s just not my thing! :-)

    Guy readers.. I urge you to get a copy of “I Am Not Superwoman”! It’s filled with gems and strokes of brilliance!

    Thanks for always being naked with us!
    Love ya!
    John

  4. says

    Sorry to hear about this but what you say makes sense. You’re brave to own and talk about it.

    I haven’t done events or anything grand like that but I tried my hand at site that, I realized later, was an EPIC FAIL. Today I quietly killed it. I’ll take what I learned from that and, hopefully, be able to apply it elsewhere.

    I think your revised plan has you covered. Good luck.

  5. says

    Yes! Congratulations on letting go of what’s not working- and oy, is it every painful. We’re in this process ourselves at HoB, and the future looks brighter with every snip of the pruning shears- more light gets through without so many branches. How’s that for beating a dead metaphor.

    Keep on rocking it!

  6. says

    Simply brilliant.
    Sounds like a wonderful chapter or next book 😉

    Thank you for not hiding, for speaking out about coming up short. All my favorite people have fallen down, sometimes just had a skinned knee, sometimes a massive bump on the head, but always have gotten back up, tried something else and usually rocked it! And the reason they are my favorite people is that they talk about it, rather than pretend they didn’t fall at all – way to go chica…love it!

  7. says

    Michele, I love that you just stopped, took a look at what you needed to learn and got “back in the saddle”. And I love that you shared it with us. Thanks for being so open and honest to us all….a lesson in authenticity and courage.

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