I’ve always heard this notion that failure is a part of business. That you can’t succeed without failing. I always found it unsettling to read and, having had plenty of successes without failures, hoped it was meant for OTHER people in OTHER industries. I saw these Pinterest pins about it and read these quotes and decided they were there to normalize it for those who struggled rather than take it like a harbinger of future failure for those who were succeeding.

Until last week.

I talk to my therapy clients about “slowing down time” in moments where they want to react impulsively. Today I want to teach you how to slow down time in your own business so you can catch failures before they negatively impact your business and I’m going to use my own failure as a case study.

Case Study

Here’s what happened: I worked for months on this 3 video series where I teach you guys some of what we talk about in the Abundance Practice-Building Groups. The script was solid, the content was valuable and I was excited but daunted to try a new format. I figured out the tech end, I had a video editor lined up. I got my lights set up, took a few deep breaths, and hit record. It took five hours to record the first 10 minute video. Film, not edit. I tried using a teleprompter for the script: too scripted. I tried putting key words in the teleprompter: I forgot important content. Somewhere in hour four I had it down and recorded a few takes. Videos 2 and 3 went faster, but I never felt alive doing it.  In the nine hours of filming I never felt connected to what I was teaching. It was more about hitting the points of the script. I’d tried the techniques of pretending my best friend or ideal clients were sitting with me. I tried pretending one of my groups was in the room. I tried, but I kept forgetting to maintain it in my effort to hit points A, B, & C.

Then I pretended the videos didn’t exist for a little while. My video editor didn’t need them yet so I didn’t rush into the process where I needed to watch the videos and say what time each slide needed to be put in. Honestly, I was avoiding it. I’m not usually big on avoidance but deep down I knew I was going to be displeased and I guess I wanted to hang out in denial for a while longer.

When it came time to get the editing info to the video editor, I was a week from launch. I sat at my favorite coffee shop with my ear buds, gritted my teeth and made it happen. It was bad. Not train wreck bad but definitely not something I wanted to represent how I normally work with people. I happened to have my Mastermind Group the next day and played them a clip. I was met with initial silence and then, these wonderful women said what they knew I didn’t want to hear— I wasn’t me on video, I was totally wooden, it wasn’t usable. Honest entrepreneurial friends are such lifesavers.

Let me back up and talk about launches and time lines and why this was a big deal. The type of launch sequence I’m using is a series of free offerings that are intended to help build my audience by providing information that is going to help move them towards their goals. Ideally it’s a win/win: it helps you build your practice while also building your trust in me. The day after the third video, people are able to sign up for the Abundance Practice-Building Group. Sign up lasts about a week from August 14-20th and the first groups starts September 1st. Normally it would be an option to just push everything back a week or a month, but because of some personal life stuff, I have to have the groups end when they’re slated to in February and don’t have that flexibility.

So after another great conversation with Joe Sanok from The Practice of the Practice and further processing and planning with my brilliant husband, Joel, I came up with a new plan to pivot and make something new work. I’m clear that I am a people-person. Trying to connect with a red camera light isn’t going to work. So I sent an email to the local folks who have been in my group, therapists who plan to be in the next round of groups, and a few friends in private practice. I told them what happened and invited them to come to my office so I could teach this to them while recording it all. Within a few hours I had an office-full lined up for each of the three video recordings.

So, last Tuesday at 4:00 PM I filmed the video, How to Not Hate Networking, that then got cleaned up and plopped into my website by Wednesday morning and though I “um’ed and “like”d and stumbled, I was talking like I normally do when you add a dose of nervousness to my teaching.  It’s a thousand times better than the one I toiled over for months. Video two, The Secret Weapon to Getting Tons of Referrals,  and video three, Why Your Competition is Completely Irrelevant (available August 13th), were filmed last Thursday. Each recording had a different group of practice-builders in the room, which was so awesome and I’m so so grateful for. Last minute is so not my style but all those years of working on flexibility is finally impacting something other than my relationships.

So, what can you learn from this?

Evaluate all the time.

Keep making sure that what you are putting out in the world is consistent with you, your philosophies, your standards. Don’t publish anything half-assed but don’t be too perfectionistic. Find that balance.

If there’s something you’re avoiding, that’s probably an indication that you need to face it. 

This goes for business and life. I also noticed I was avoiding listening to the podcast I was interviewed on last week but reminded myself that I do hard things all the time. I’m not going to grow and improve if I don’t face those fears. So I listened and listening clarified that I was myself on the podcast where I was being interviewed by a human being and not faking it on video.

Get your support system involved. 

My Mastermind Group, Joe, Joel, the people I emailed who so graciously leant their time and encouragement— these people kept me from being a puddle of freak out. I know I talk about Cheerleaders a lot, but they are really what separates those who fall on their faces and those who pivot. Like when you trip on the sidewalk and catch yourself with a little dance. It’s not graceful, but it’s better than a broken nose and a skinned chin.

Know your strengths, and certainly work to expand them, but be honest with yourself about whether that new skill is ready for public view. 

I wanted to be good at video but I’m not a natural behind the camera. Nine hours of practice isn’t going to be enough to hone a skill. I knew what I created wasn’t up to par. I know I’m at my best with people, so I’m going to go that route.

Remain flexible. 

I LOVE plans and prefer sticking with them, but I’m not willing to sacrifice quality for stringency.

Discomfort is okay.

Sure, it’s uncomfortable. But like we often observe with our therapy clients, some level of discomfort is usually necessary for change. And change is necessary for improvement. Remember recording sessions in grad school and wanting to crawl under a chair when your cohort watched? You’ve gained skills by being gently called out by your supervisor. You’ve felt clueless about what to do in session and did some research afterward to be better prepared next time. We ask our clients to sit with emotions that don’t feel good and hopefully do that ourselves because we know it’s part of being healthy. I was the student who got everything done two weeks before the deadline so I didn’t have to have anxiety. I have never in my life completed a project the day before. It challenges how I do life.  All of this is going to come up for you in your practice; business is full of this stuff. That’s actually a good thing for our personal development.

So, learn from my mistakes, please! It helps me feel like the discomfort I had to sit with is for a greater good. And when you watch the new and improved videos on August 5th, 10th and 13th, know that any comments, positive reinforcement, or suggestions are apppreciated.

Now you: How have you subverted of recovered from failure? Let us know in the comments!

Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.

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