Are you failing to fail?

Are you failing to fail?

Today I want to talk to you about something a client of mine did recently, because it makes me think that maybe you are not doing enough of this yourself?

What my client did was fail spectacularly at something.   This was something that I advised her to do.

We’d only recently started working together and one of the first things I advised her to do, and that she was willing to go out and try (despite no small amount of discomfort) failed.   I’m so proud of her for this and believe there’s a lot to celebrate from this failure, so let me tell you why.

Watch the video below or scroll down to read more.

What does failure look like?

We are often so scared to fail or get something wrong that we don’t get out there and try things, which means we never know if something will work or not.  And we never learn the lessons to make things work better next time.

My client Mary (*not her real name) had been running workshops for a while and was having no problem at all filling them – and even better they are profitable in their own right. However, one of the big focuses for Mary at the moment is to do more things that will make a bigger impact on her actual revenue.

I always encourage my clients to go for the “low hanging fruit”, in other words the easiest and quickest thing to bring in more money. In Mary’s case it was enrolling more one-to-one clients and of course her low hanging fruit for this are the people who already attend her workshops – there will be no group of people more willing and ready to work with her than the  people who have just spent two-and-a-half days with her, living and breathing her work and getting to know her.   So my advice was to make an offer at her next workshop so that her participants could work with her beyond the workshop by buying a one-to-one programme or package.

Now, Mary was not at all comfortable with this idea to begin with but she decided to give it a go. And I helped her to present that next step in a way that was as clear, compelling and “non-salesy” as possible.

But it didn’t work.

In fact in Mary’s words, “it went down like a lead balloon”.  But here’s why I’m proud of her and why I believe this “failure” is actually something to celebrate.

1. She stepped up and gave it a go!

She went outside her comfort zone to stretch herself and try something she hadn’t done before, and that didn’t feel comfortable. There was no way of knowing what the outcome was going to be without giving it a go.  She certainly wasn’t going to make sales at her workshop by just talking and thinking about it – she had to take action.

2. She’s learned a LOT

Through the process of giving it a go, Mary has

  • had insights into the structure of the workshop itself so that she can better serve her audience and so that it can better support her in making her offer,
  • had better insights into the participants themselves and what they need and want, which has given her new clarity about a slightly different offering that will been more suitable for them – and that she’s planning to offer at her next workshop
  • she developed an awareness of how she behaved while making the offer – in terms of her personal confidence, conviction and eye contact that she knows she can improve on the next time.

So with all this learning, she’s certain to do a much better (and much more confident) job of making the offer next time – and as a result, there is a very good chance she’ll get a much better outcome too!

3. She’s created awareness

Now, every single participant at that workshop knows there is a next step beyond the workshop, what that looks like, and what the investment is.  It’s very probable that some of those participants just weren’t ready to say yes on the day, but they will come back to her in future when they are ready. And in fact some of them did express an interest when she followed up with them after the workshop – and two of them are now in conversation about joining her 121 programme – they just weren’t ready on the day. This simply wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t offered it to them in the first place.

How can you “fail forward”?

If Mary hadn’t been willing to give it a go, she would never have learned these lessons so that she can go on to do a better job next time.   It means she’s “failing forward”, learning as she goes.  And the next time she makes that offer she can only get bigger and better results.

As her mentor I’m proud of her because she was willing to step outside her comfort zone and try something new, even without any guarantee of the outcome.

So I have one question for you…

What are you willing to risk failing at in order to take your business forward?

  • What are you not doing that you know would help your business?
  • What are you currently putting off because you’re scared of failing?

And most importantly:

Over to you…

I’d love to know what you’re willing to fail at in the next couple of weeks?  Please do share what you’re going to do in the comments below – I’d love to know!

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And, if you’d like to learn more from me about how to create a business you can truly love (without imposing arbitrary rules or other people’s “shoulds” on yourself) you can sign up for my free guide Create a Business you can Fall in Love — and Stay in Love with.    Find out more and sign up here.

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Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts


  1. Deborah Taylor on March 13, 2018 at 11:26 am

    The thing I’m willing to fail at in my business is the launch of my 1-year business book-writing and publishing programme (I still need a good name for it). Just to be clear, I’m willing to fail at the launch, not the programme itself 😉 This is important to me because I have launched programmes before and not got the result I wanted. The last time I launched, I didn’t give myself enough time and I hadn’t done enough preparation. That’s a learning I’ll take with me into the launch of my VIP 1-year programme, However, I won’t wait until I’m completely ready either because I’ve learnt that imperfect action outweighs perfect inaction many times over.

    • Catherine on March 19, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Hi Deborah
      Thanks for sharing and I love that you are willing to fail at your launch – because of course if you are not then you are also not available for the (also highly possible) success that will come from taking action. And I love your “imperfect action outweighs perfect action” mantra too – it’s the same one I’ve used over and over, even though I’m never 100% comfortable with the imperfection, I know that being willing to go with it means I keep on moving forward.

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