Being the class clown in college, most of my best stories started with the words, “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” These words were usually a good indicator of a dumb idea that we would laugh about for years. While this made for great college stories, in business the sting is much greater. Now when I have a dumb idea, there is no team of cheering drunk people who will applaud my bravery and won’t remember my mistake tomorrow. Now there is a community of peers – people watching – waiting to see if I succeed – and some even giddy when I fail, as if they needed proof that I wasn’t as great as they think I think I am.
I know I shouldn’t care about those people watching me on the sidelines.
But I do care.
But not enough. Not enough to stop trying.
See, here’s the thing. This business of being a motivational speaker (and I imagine not just my business) is built on risk. Courage is your number one skill set. Not just the courage to get up on stage, but the courage to get up there and BE DIFFERENT. The courage to try new things. The courage to be cutting edge. The courage to be raw and vulnerable. The courage to put yourself out there over and over.
The courage to run with an idea, having no guarantee that it will work.
I have tried jokes that bombed. I’ve had stories that offended people. I’ve hosted events where nobody showed up. I’ve worn outfits that made my butt look like pigs fighting under a blanket. I’ve lost sight of reality when it comes to how big my hair should be. I have boxes of products I convinced my husband that I would sell, and never even opened the box. I have stacks of shiny slick postcards that were outdated before I ever used them. I’ve had clients that didn’t like me, and audiences that asked me not to come back.
I’m pretty confident that for every one good idea I had, there were fifty bad ones.
But some were golden. I just didn’t know it until I got on the other side of it.
And I wouldn’t have known had I not tried every one.
That’s the thing about innovation. The very concept is built on creating something that never existed before. So by its very nature, there is no guarantee that it will work. And even if you try it and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it was necessarily a bad idea. You just might have gone about it the wrong way. One man’s bad idea is often another man’s jackpot.
So what’s my point?
Don’t be ashamed of your bad ideas. So you failed. Get over it. Celebrate that you tried. THAT is the victory. You had the courage in a sea of black and white zebras to be pink.
Get back up on the horse. Try the idea another way. Or lick your wounds and head to the next idea.
Just like it takes kissing a lot of frogs before you find your prince – it takes a lot of bad ideas to land on a good one. At least for most of us.
Keep at it. Your next big thing is just around the corner.
Now I’ve got to go. I just signed up for a pole dancing class.