I recently delivered a presentation that prompted me to think about failure, how it affects us, and how we react to it.
Delivering presentations is something I do regularly. I wouldn’t say that I am an outstanding presenter, but my skills have improved (are improving) and I usually can tell that my delivery was a success based on the audience interaction. The normal result is that I’m with the outcome when I give a presentation or lead a workshop. However, this one is NOT going down in the “success” column.
For the purpose if this blog post, I am not going to focus on the presentation itself, but on the overall experience.m
So, if it wasn’t a success, was it a failure?
I really don’t like to use that word — failure — and I’m going to venture that I’m not the only one with an aversion to it. Who wants to call herself a failure or admit to participating in one? But regardless of what I call it (less-than-stellar, not my best, could be improved, off-the-mark) I know that I could have and should have done better.
“I was distracted by the incident before the presentation… I had had only three hours of sleep for the two nights prior to that day… the person who asked me to speak didn’t adequately prepare me on the format and expected topic… and the dog ate my homework.” The WHY of my less-than-stellar performance isn’t important, not in the long run. The FACT that my delivery wasn’t good enough (for me) is what is important, and how I reacted.
It’s not the end of the world. Unless, of course, the thing you’re obsessing over is in fact the one thing that could have ended life as you know it… remind yourself that it’s NOT the end of the world. Keep it in perspective.
Is that what I did? No. I wallowed until one of my best friends told me to stop the drama. In fact, I think she used those words exactly.
We are our own worst critics, or at least I am my own worst critic. No one is going to be tougher on me than me. But I need to use these experiences as lessons, opportunities to improve.
I failed, (yes, I am using that word) but that won’t stop me from trying again, and doing better next time.
What did you learn from your last failure?
- You Screwed Up. Now What?, at Inc.