I’m damn good at failure. If it was an Olympic sport I may as well be Michael Phelps. I mean, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m winning in the failure department.
Sometimes it feels like Becca three and a half, failure 3,223. You might think I’m being dramatic here, and maybe I am, but I was in sales (and medical sales to boot) for a long while. Failure and I, we’re tight. Bonnie and Clyde, Lorelei and Rory Gilmore, Romeo, and Juliet kinda tight.
I suppose you could say I’m a failure con·nois·seur. But the truth is I wear that title like a badge of honor. Failure connoisseur. It has a nice ring to it right?
One thing we all have in common is that we fail and fall on our faces. You’re probably thinking “okay Becca we get it” but I’ve got to tell you.
These Olympic failure metals have created in me: resilience, a give zero fucks attitude, and a fail forward/more gracefully than before mentality. I believe that our failures all lead to a better you. A better professional, parent, and businessperson. All around better. Even though they feel like giant dumpster fires when they happen
The Gold Medal Fall: Learning Resilience
Speaking of dumpster fires…I bought a gorgeous pair of red heels and paired them perfectly with a tailored black business suit and a crisp, pressed white shirt. I was early for my meeting this day and even had time to stop for coffee. I had finally landed the meeting with a Director of Surgery that only happened because I was obnoxiously persistent and another rep royally sucked. It was my lucky day and I look dang good! But that confidence tanked quickly because John from housekeeping waxed the floor the night before and the hallway leading to the “important peoples” office was glistening and shiny and slippery as all get out. You see where this is going. I absolutely fell down, coffee splattering my white pressed shirt, ankle twisted, and walked into the director’s office heels in hands, shirt gloriously splattered with brown soppy stains (oh and now you could see my bra)…AWESOME!! I laughed at myself walking in, and thankfully they did too! The security guards also got a great laugh at the footage they never let me live down. I did end up landing this client, but two lessons here.
Heels and freshly waxed floors aren’t friends. However, laughing at yourself and owning your clumsiness, showing up as a real human is usually refreshing for people.
I didn’t land the contract on the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth attempt. And when I go to the meeting it didn’t go as planned (not even a little), but my persistence did pay off and the gracious Director only laughed a little at my appearance.
Silver Medal: Zero Fucks Mentality
The subtle art of not giving a fuck does not come naturally. We all care what people think, and maybe it’s me getting older, or maybe it’s me realizing I care more than others do about what people think. No one is actually watching you or giving your failures time and energy. They don’t care if you take a selfie at the gym, because they are paying attention to one thing…THEMSELVES.
So, when it comes to your “epic fails” or bombed presentations what can you do? First and foremost; don’t dwell on it and live in that space. It’s okay you fell flat on your face, it’s okay you were a blubbering idiot in your pitch and forgot to breathe or let your prospect speak. No, it’s not ideal. Yes, you probably sucked! Been there, done that. And it’s okay you flopped. What’s not okay is if you didn’t give a fuck enough to care or change. Care enough to look your failures and flops dead in the eye and make a pact with yourself that you won’t dwell on them, and that next time you will not suck. You will care enough to become better, and it's your shot next time to simply acknowledge and improve upon your failures. I believe you can, and you will.
Bronze Medal: Fail Gracefully
Remember the heel debacle we talked about in my gold medal failure? Yeah, I know, you’re still picturing my Bambi legs splayed out, the coffee pool underneath me, and the stained soggy shirt. Yet, at that moment I knew I had somewhere to be, and I didn’t want anyone to see me in this precarious position. I jumped up as quickly as possible, found a janitor’s closet with a wet floor sign, grabbed a mountain of paper towels to throw on the mess, took off those evil heels, and ran down the hall to the meeting out of breath. The manager hadn’t even arrived yet, so the running was a lost effort. But I was there. I showed up. It wasn’t graceful whatsoever, but sometimes you must simply clean up the mess, toss some paper towels on it, and run for the goal. The key word here is run! Run straight into the big meeting that scared the crap out of me. How often do we fail or fall, and simply do a U-turn and run away from the big scary things that make us uncomfortable? It is easier after all, but don’t allow yourself an easy out. The more we fail or get rejected, the less each hit stings.
So, we all have a choice when it comes to failures. We can let them hurt and suck, we can have self-pity, we can continually come up with one excuse after another as to why something didn’t work. We can justify anything, and believe me being in sales as long as I was, I can justify almost ANYTHING. Yet our excuses, our avoidances, our U-turns when we should really attack and beeline toward the discomforts will get us nowhere. We won’t improve on failures; we will simply accept them and remain stagnant. So, show up messy, give enough craps to acknowledge and own those flops, and most importantly learn from them.
Yes, I am proud of my collection of failures, I am proud that I have fallen and gotten back up, and I am proud of you for doing the same. You can push through the embarrassment, you can overcome the odds, and you can fail more gracefully next time. Just don’t do it wearing red stilettos.
Together let’s unravel, accept our failures, and become connoisseurs of them. We can learn to enjoy them and develop a refined palate to differentiate between when to give up and when to carry on.