I feel like I haven’t written a blog post in so long. I guess to some extent that is the truth as my last post was published on the 19th January, wowzer. Anyway, enough of the chitchat, let’s get to it.

Yesterday we i.e. #IssaMovement held our first event of the year. It was a careers workshop and our aim was to really provide attendees with information that isn’t taught in schools. Tickets for this workshop had been out since our last event back in November. However, with just 4 days to go we had only sold 4 spaces *gulp*. I personally considered cancelling the event and I vocalised this in our team group chat. But despite worries of a flopped event and after much deliberation, words of encouragement and laughter we persevered and decided against cancelling the event.

Saturday morning arrived and for me, it didn’t get off to the best start. I slept through my alarm meaning I woke up an hour later than I needed to. I missed my train by a few minutes (as in I saw it drive past me). When I checked the journey from King’s Cross to LSBU, it was only showing me bus options because the tube I was meant to get wasn’t stopping where I needed it to stop on that day. Then when I got on the bus at King’s Cross (extremely late at this point and lugging a very heavy suitcase full of drinks and other refreshments) the bus driver was extremely chatty and was dealing with EVERYONE’S queries at a glacial pace. Which on a normal day wouldn’t have bothered me but when you’re already late to your own event patience truly is a non-existent virtue. Then to top it all off, after finally arriving at the venue, sweating and windswept, and having set everything up… we had to move rooms because there was a double booking!

So, what’s the point of this story, Paula? I hear you cry. Well, we all know that social media glamorises everything and only highlights the wins. People talk about how failures are part and parcel of success but rarely do they actually share their personal failures. People always post about their events being “SOLD OUT” and, we’ve done the same to be fair, but no one ever talks about the events that didn’t do that well in terms of ticket sales. No one actually talks about how stress inducing it can be to have less than 10 tickets sold when your event is just around the corner and under a week away. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Why would you want to tell people if you haven’t sold out? Why would anyone care? Personally, I think it’s important we share our “failures” with each other too because there is so much that can be learnt. Sharing failures humanises us and it helps us see that success really isn’t overnight.

Although we didn’t sell as many spaces as we anticipated for our careers workshop, the word failure seems far too strong of an adjective to describe it. It was definitely a learning in terms of what topics we choose to focus our workshops on. And it was definitely a success in terms of the invaluable insights shared by our amazing panellists. The conversation flowed nicely throughout the day and we were able to get to the root of the subject matter which is exactly what we hope to achieve with our workshops.  Either way, I would say that when dealing with “failures” here are some of the key things to remember/ consider:

  • Failures are never truly failures. They’re learnings. They’re an opportunity for you to step back, analyse, then go again.
  • In every “failure” you’ll be able to find some form of success. For example, although numbers weren’t high at our workshop, the panellists were absolutely amazing and everyone that attended enjoyed the experience.
  • Your attitude is everything! If I had let the ghastly start to my morning impact on my attitude, I might not be able to reflect as positively on this whole experience as I currently am. Sometimes, it’s your attitude that determines whether or not something you do is a failure or success.
  • Who do you surround yourself with? When I shared in our team group chat that I was considering cancelling the workshop, Lola was very adamant that we push on and ultimately it was her words of encouragement that meant we went ahead with the event. This isn’t the only occasion where I personally have been encouraged by Lola and Jane and I can honestly say that when one of us falls down the others are always there to pick her back up. This is so so important when you’re trying to achieve something in life. There’s only so long you can deal with naysayers in your corner.
  • Finally, don’t compromise quality. Whether there is 1 person at your event or 1000 people, never compromise on quality. Remember what it is you’re trying to achieve and why you’re trying to achieve it then bring your best foot forward and deliver like no man’s business… even if you have been thrown left to right by Storm Dennis prior to arrival.

Paula M



8 Responses

  1. A very honest piece Paula. I had back to back events with poor sales last year – it’s always an anxiety inducing experience, but that’s part of the events game.

    There are usually lessons to be learned from these moments and it’s how you bounce back that is key.

    • Thanks so much Eche! I totally agree with you and I definitely feel that the key is to keep pushing on. Never ever give up, just review and adapt if necessary but never stop.

  2. Highly successful people are the ones who have failed the most. Paula well done you are travelling on the right path.

    As the public, we usually only learn about these individuals and their companies once they have made it big. We admire their success yet rarely witness the immense struggle they went through to get there. By not being exposed to their failures, we are unfortunately only left to compare ourselves to their achievements.

    This in turn can make it hard for us to validate the mistakes we make and problems we experience. We often second-guess ourselves and question our abilities; not realising that adversity is required in order to succeed.

    This way of thinking has made the world afraid of failure. Even from a young age we have been taught that being wrong and making mistakes are bad. Our mind itself uses painful memories of the past to provoke negative emotions like fear and anxiety to stop us from making those same errors today.

  3. what a great post Paula- really loved the honestly (and humour) of this post. SO glad you could show us the up side to what looked like a bad situation!

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