You know those times you have a great opportunity….and you ignore it, or find an excuse not to engage with it, or pretend you forgot it?
I had one of those this morning. I knew my business coach had set up a ‘pitchathon’; a competition to pitch your business to a panel of experts and all the people in a clubhouse room. A rare opportunity to be invited to promote what you do (and potentially gain clients), and there were even prizes for the best pitches.
I hate public speaking. I love speaking to you. And maybe you and a friend, but anymore new eyes (or ears – Clubhouse is an audio only social media channel) and I am waaaaay out of my comfort zone and tend to turn into a stuttering mess. But it’s ok, because I don’t have to do it. And that’s what I decided about this morning. I’d jump on my bike in the garage and listen in and get some tips that way.
Only my coach added me to the stage when I was about 5km into an 18km ride. I talk to my clients a lot about pushing yourself that little further to get you closer to where you want to be. And I knew I’d get feedback that would help me and raise the profile of what I’m doing so I thought…’yes, I can do this! It’s International Woman’s Day after all and I am a professional woman who knows her stuff. What could go wrong?’
I jotted down some notes on the notepad I keep next to the bike and tried to get to the end of those 18km before they got to me. 16km in I realised I had to stop to give myself a minute to get my breath back.
I heard my name. I put my glasses on so I could read my notes. My glasses steamed up. I introduced myself. I could only make out random words of my notes through my foggy glasses. I stumbled…
My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest
I felt sick
I was sweating (Cycling? Talking? Who knows?)
My breathing got faster
I started to shake
I stumbled some more. I was talking about helping people managing anxiety and could hear my own voice shaking. Oh, the irony.
The panel gave feedback. My obvious nerves were highlighted. That was all the feedback I got…
My cycling app asked if I wanted to give up as it had been paused for the duration. The wording seemed so appropriate. I had taken off my glasses but struggled to see the words through my tears. I’d made a fool of myself. Why had I even tried?
But no. I told the app I would carry on. And decided to therapy myself.
What could I take from what – right this second – felt like a disaster?
Well, I had tried. I’d not had a script and I’d talked from the heart. I’d pushed myself far out of my comfort zone and proved to myself that actually, I could do it; I just have to learn to do it a lot better. And that won’t happen without trying.
I cycled some more, and some more… and then a bit extra (45km in total, in fact – clearly there was a lot of adrenaline to burn!), and just as I finished, the pitchathon ended and the prizes were announced. I was feeling deflated but recognised that there are way bigger things to worry about and then…the judge with the lovely Scottish accent was saying my name. She was giving me a place on one of her courses! I was very, very aware it was because I was so bad that I was being given this opportunity, but I’m not proud…
And actually I sent that lovely lady a message an hour later, thanking her and saying I was embarrassed at how badly it had gone, and do you know what she said? She said ‘You touched my heart…. I remember more about your pitch than a lot of the other ones I heard.’
So, in terms of coming across as a professional business woman on International Women’s Day today, I failed.
But stepping up and doing something that scared me, doing what I encourage my clients to do, and finding the positives in it; in being #positivelyanxious; I succeeded in that. And that’s not a 100% failure.
So, my challenge to you is:
That thing that scares you because it was terrible last time you tried….was it really a 100% failure?
Is there a glimmer of something there you can take away, be proud of, and build on for next time? Because there will be a next time, for you and me.
Because, my lovely, that’s how we keep on moving forward.