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  • Jen Nicholls

Failing is an art form (apparently)

I wanted to use this post to tell you all about the in person (!) real life (!) event I held this Weds because I was so excited about it. And I will...but I nearly didn't.


I've been craving a chance to hold my own space for people for some time. I'd gone over and over again with my own coach and mentor(s) about when, how, what it might look like. I'll be honest, fear got in my way and I procrastinated for a while, I've got quite comfortable in my own company, but I didn't want total introversion to set in. So I dug deep, decided a bit of courage was all I needed, face that fear and go for it. Because, what's the worst that could happen?


So I booked the room. I'd posted it about it on socials. Connected with every local contact I had to see if they either wanted to come or knew someone that did, cheekily asked everyone to share it. Primed my email list. People were super supportive. That one little share could make a whole heap of difference. I made a load of posters, developed a QR code that linked to a special video for people to watch, flyer dropped and spoke to every coffee shop owner in Worthing. The barriers I'd assumed might happen weren't there. It was happening!



I had planned for around 10 people, but realistically would have been so happy with 2 or 3 for this first meet up. Make a few close connections and let the word spread.


I thought I'd done everything I could, that you're told you "should", in order to set something like this up. My own coaching sessions around this whole thing had left me feeling confident enough to keep going.




Must admit, I was panicking a bit and quite upset when it came to about 3 days before and I had no sign ups. Not even a nibble. Then by Tuesday I had 3! Phew! I'd reached my "reserve price"; anything else was a bonus!


Then Wednesday came. 1 person dropped out. Hmm... ok. Still viable.


I got ready, put on weird clothes I don't normally wear (my She-Shed doesn't have a dress code), dark clouds literally and metaphorically edged their way over Worthing and me. It was raining. I felt "funny".


It's just that fear talking again. "Shush, I don't need you right now, got people to meet" I told myself and cracked on. Grabbed some biscuits and headed for the venue.


The lady on reception showed me to the room, hot drinks all set up, space for us to sit, chat, mingle. Just as I had anticipated. Perfect.


I sat down and got my note book out and the resources I had prepared and was ready to gift the guests.


11:10am - that's when I knew no one was coming. I checked my emails and messages. Nothing.

So I sat there and instead of reacting, gave myself chance to respond. "Old" Jen would have burst into tears, taken it absolutely personally and run home.


Well not today Zurg! I wandered over and grabbed myself a cuppa. Opened the biscuits and my note book. I'd paid for the room. This was my time. So quiet, very peaceful and so for half an hour, I enjoyed that cup of tea, didn't count the number of biscuits I ate and journaled.


I wrote these two questions at the top of the page:


How do you feel? and What do you want?


I let the pen flow.


It's hard to write this without it sounded like "yeah that's what you would say now" but my over riding feeling was one of relief. I wasn't upset like I thought I would be. There were so many pragmatic learnings from it...Maybe I hadn't created the "right" thing at the "right" time? Maybe I hadn't spend enough time marketing it, figuring out if it really was what people wanted? Maybe I hadn't chosen the right venue or time or day?


And then, of course there are a few personal ones...Maybe I'm not the right person to be doing this? Maybe people think I'm no good at this? Maybe I shouldn't be doing this at all?


So many maybes.


And a chance to learn - that's the business I'm in!


Before writing this, I remembered one of the first times I went on to LinkedIn. A girl had posted about failing to get through her doctorate application. All that work... to be told no. Her reason for talking about it though was because social media seems to be geared up to be the "greatest hits" of someone's life or business. She wanted to illuminate people to the other side. Emphasise that it's common, normalise it and cheerlead resilience. I was also reminded of a conversation with a successful coach I look up to who told me it took her 6 years to be in the position she is now. Even now, though people will tell you "times are changing", how often do you see someone document a "failure"? I can't think of many. I also think that's why so many people give up when it comes to building their own business. There seem to be very few people documenting this messy first (many?) year(s) process (if you know any, send their details my way!) and the reality of it all. I'm so tired of seeing "6 figure that" and "outcome based this" - I want to know HOW, I want the nitty gritty, the shit times, when the bank account was at zero, the times you felt like giving up and why, the foundations of your capabilities, resilience, tenacity, gumption that got you to solo business success. How much more inspiring is that?


So here's mine. I failed. I'm documenting it. It can be the first chapter of my best selling book once I've figured all this shit out...


I can see where I want to get to. I know that path will change as I go. I absolutely have the skills and capabilities and experience to support people to be the best they can be (including myself!). I will nail my masters degree (and beyond) and this business will (eventually) be the success I envisage. My version of success.


Cheers, to the most expensive cuppa I've had.

Cheers to having the courage to try.

Cheers to experimenting and analysing the outcome. Cheers to this journey.

Cheers for the support and cheers to what's next...Onwarrrrrds!


In the words of James Clear - "You're not failing, you're in the middle of succeeding"


And having been truly inspired by Dame Deborah James I shall continue to have rebellious hope. I hope you do too.


Jen xx



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