I recently experienced failure at work for the first time ever. I had coordinated with a couple of my colleagues to run a Smashing Stereotypes event for the students at my school. Smashing Stereotypes events are what we run for our female members at VALHALLA Strength – South Brisbane. They are designed to educate and inspire our members by giving them access to women that have been in strength sports for a few years and have dealt with their fair share of stereotypes and prejudices. When I was approached by a colleague to speak to their Certificate in Fitness students about owning a gym, I offered a version of Smashing Stereotypes and my colleague was very excited by it. (If you haven’t worked it out by now, I can never do things without them getting bigger than Ben-Hur.) And so…
I lined up a couple of the ladies from my gym to come and do a panel alongside one of the students from school that also competes in strength sports. I organised for a female Personal Trainer (PT) to come and run a circuit session beforehand, in order to turn the evening into “more than just talking.” I made posters and was going to hand out certificates for industry experience to the Certificate in Fitness students. Unfortunately, it did not go to plan.
The first sign that something was amiss should have been when I sent out an email to those that had signed up and I received a number of email replies saying that “they never signed up in the first place and they were very sorry to miss out.” This meant that I had no way of knowing who was coming.
The second sign should have been when less than 24 hours prior to the event, my PT had to cancel. Thankfully my family and husband were able to swap things around so that my husband could come and run the circuit for me while my family opened the gym. I realise now that that should have been the point at which to pull the pin and postpone the event to another day, but I had faith that someone would want to learn from these amazing women so I stuck it out.
The third sign should have been the fact that my husband woke up on the morning of the big day not feeling well. However, stubborn me kept thinking it’d be ok.
**side note: how great is hindsight?!**
Well, it flopped. I had 2 students turn up, neither of whom were in the Certificate in Fitness class. Those students, unfortunately, were not able to reschedule work or training commitments. When I had to make the call to postpone the event and contact my panelists and colleagues that were coming to support the event, I was in shock. I was disappointed. I was embarrassed. I was angry.
Since then, I have calmed down and looking back I’ve learned some valuable lessons, which I thought I’d share:
- If you’re anything like me, when you set a date months in advance you need to ensure that the target audience (in this case, the students of the Certificate in Fitness class) are given a “save the date” as soon as you set it, so that even though you may not have all the details finalised you can at least lock in the date and they can make arrangements.
- Always have a Plan B, so that when life happens and people are unable to make it you have a back-up option and you’re not left scrambling.
- Check that the IT truly does work before using it and when in doubt, always resort to tried and trusted methods.
Overall, I’m still feeling a little deflated that it wasn’t the success that I had hoped, but that won’t stop me from trying again. I’ve learnt somethings and I know what to do for next time. The 2 girls that did turn up had a lot of fun trying out new ways of moving. They got a free PT session with my husband and learnt a bit about what their bodies are capable of along the way. One of the girls made a comment along the lines of: “Look! I’m stronger now just from doing one session!” I even joined in the circuit – there was something immensely enjoyable about training with my students.
I needed to remind myself that not all things work the first time around. This was my first true taste of failure at something like this, and although it wasn’t a pleasant experience, I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect, learn, and to make it better. I took a risk, it didn’t work, but that won’t stop me from taking a risk again. After all, it’s not about me, it’s about the girls, and I want to give them every opportunity I can, no matter how many times it takes.