streetsIt’s been a little quiet around these parts… I’ve been devoting a lot of my attention to my client’s projects and the retreat I’d been planning with my other business, and it’s kept me away from posting here. I’ve missed you bunches, of course. But here’s the kicker… despite 4 months and countless hours of effort, lots of money invested in well-targeted ads, and some of the best copy I’ve ever written… I failed. Here’s a bit about my journey, and the lessons I learned along the way.

Navigating Failure

With this retreat, my reputation was on the line. I had to cancel with the venue, publicly on Facebook, and email my event sponsors. The worst part is that it’s the second one I had to cancel, so I felt the pressure to save face. The last time, I faded quietly… I just stopped promoting it, did everything else behind closed doors. This time. I was transparent and open, because I’m embracing my authentic self and anything else would just be faking it.

And when one of my sponsors wrote back and asked “Didn’t this happen last year too?” – yeah, it hurt my feelings. But I put on my big girl underoos and owned it.

In my message on the event page on Facebook, I was honest – I said that the decision wasn’t made easily, that I was writing with a heavy heart. Because I was. Because cancelling something you pour your heart into sucks.

You Are Not Your Business

About two weeks ago, I had this sneaking suspicion that I was going to have to cancel the retreat because despite following best practices, driving qualified traffic and so on, I had zero registrations after a month of promotion.

Zero.

In the last one I had to cancel, when the weather was crummy and people had just been to my retreat a few months before I’d managed to get 3. So having 0 registrants was a bit of a shock. And a bit of a statistical anomaly. Based on my traffic, I should have had at least 6 sign up, but nada. (It was really weird you guys, a statistical anomaly.) So naturally, I fell into a slump, and on my mastermind call I said, “So I guess I just suck at retreats.”

Except I don’t.

Because my May gathering was life changing for some of my participants. And it was a lot of fun. I had women who were retreat veterans come up and tell me how incredible it was, and how they were surprised that this was my first.

I am good at planning retreats. I’m getting better at promoting them. I need to focus on building my network and increasing my visibility. But here’s the thing, no matter the circumstances, I am not my business. I am not a failure because the retreat failed. My identity is not “Seryna, host of retreats” (and if it is, I need to re-write that shit right now.) My identity should be more like “Seryna… adoring wife, sweet step mum, funny auntie, giver, lover, generous with ideas and inspiration, cheerleader…” and so on. If I lose myself in my business, then external factors like a retreat failing or a client bailing or something would destroy my very identity. And fuck that, quite frankly.

Distract Yourself with Service

I hit a few emotional walls during this process, when I was pretty sure everything was going to fall apart, and we’re talking BIG emotional funks. And the one thing that pulled me out every time was being in service to someone else.

Sometimes you need to feel the feels (I did a lot of that too, and am currently riding out the rest of this storm.) but sometimes, you need to pull yourself up and carry on, which can be tough when you’re still in the thick of it. My old pattern was to numb myself with food, or Netflix, and this time, I distracted myself by helping other people. I did some pro bono design work, I listened to friends who were struggling, I took my niece to the movies, I went with my husband to his appointments. It was a nice distraction from my own hurt, and I didn’t have a regret hangover after from eating a bunch of crap or wasting time on stuff that just wasn’t important.

Sometimes, Your Best Just Isn’t Enough

We are told when we’re kids that if we work hard, we can do anything, be anything. And that sweet one, is a lie. I hate to be the bearer or bad news, but it’s true. We are major contributors to our success. I believe in manifestation. Of getting out to work and hustle. That destiny is not a matter of chance, but of choice… BUT!

There are factors outside of you that contribute it how things turns out.

And if you’re a Type-A, semi-control freak, who gives a billion percent, that is a hard pill to swallow.

When I was deciding whether or not to cancel the retreat last year, Marie Forleo released an interview with someone I love – Elizabeth Gilbert. And in the interview she talks about how sometimes you can give something your all, and it won’t work out. And it’s okay, so long as you haven’t put all of your eggs in that basket so you’re too broken to take a chance ever again. (Here’s the link – she starts talking about it around the 19:00 mark.)

So in this case, my best wasn’t enough. And as someone who has been working through a lifetime of issues around worthiness, that sucks, I’m not going to lie. But even though the retreat was cancelled, this wasn’t an all out failure. I learned. I grew. I asked for help. I created beautiful materials. I stepped up as a leader. I got more creative with my targeting. I learned loads about Facebook ads, and so on. I was open hearted with my venue, open with my facilitators, honest with my sponsors. I shared my journey on Periscope. I was my most authentic, genuine self, even when things were hard, and I didn’t give up. I pushed until the absolute very last moment. And that is how I failed gracefully.