Failure. Persistence. Commitment. (Part One)

How do you react when 3 months of planning for a project you’re deeply passionate about leads to an abdominal failure?

Two days ago I led an evening retreat of 5 people at Mt Falcon Park in Morrison Colorado.  The goal was to bring together a group of like minded endurance junkies that desired to identify a running project that we design together (think Rim-Rim-Rim of the Grand Canyon or a trek across Zion National Park), train over the course of 6 months, and each explore how we can get more from life by living in an energized, conscious, committed way.

After three months of planning and untold conversations, the day arrived to launch the project.  As I arose from bed, I saw my iPhone blinking with new messages.

I fully expected to join you tonight but kids activities have me busy, busy busy!  Have fun! 

My knee is sore.  Not going to make it.  Have fun!

And at least three that said Work is just crazy.  It has me buried.  No way I can make the run.  I hope you have fun!

Crap.  I’d invested dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars for this evening, and had dreams of 7-10 people signing up for the project.  My list was dwindling.

I emailed my coach with a “tail-between-the-legs” kind of whiny message.  He called me shortly thereafter.  He felt my pain, he said.  He’d made all the mistakes and heard all the excuses from years of creating group programs, he shared.

The he asked me:  “Who are you being that has allowed this many people to feel it’s OK to bail last minute?”

Wait, what?  I’ve been pouring my heart out for this project, thank you.  I’ve been telling everyone how great it will be, how they can’t miss this.  Please, please, please, come to my little party.

And you know what?, most found other things to do with their time.

So what is the lesson here?  Have you found yourself in a similar predicament?  Despite all your planning, all your passion, where people disappoint you?  How did you react?  What was your next step?

Here are my key learnings:

  1. I need to get my head on straight and buck up.  I quickly went down the victim/pity party route.  My hopes were dashed because people were bailing.  So what?  Get excited about what I’m doing and commit to serving those that show up even more powerfully!  My role as a leadership coach must demonstrate unshakable leadership and a focus on the positive and what’s possible – not the negatives.
  2. What did I do and who was I being to allow people to bail?  That’s a tough pill to swallow.   My answer?  I didn’t focus on the deeper purpose of the project – to guide people in the transformation possible from this project.  I tried to get “as many as I can” to join us for the run.  In the hopes that just maybe, we’ll fill the group out with 7-10 people.  This is opposite to sharing that there are 12 spots available for the run.  7 people will have the opportunity to join this team.  That’s it.  And for those that agree to take one of the 12 spots, to gain their commitment up front that they will be there and that it is important to them.  To create an agreement, rather than a “hope” that they’ll show up.
  3. Finally, I’ve been challenged to really look at how committed I am to this project.  This is an effort to bring more adventure into my coaching and surround myself with adventurous people who are fired up on life.  Now that the chips are down, am I really committed to seeing this through?  In ultra endurance events, there are always rough times, deep lows when it is easy to quit.  You run or ride through an aid station and the chair is just calling out your name.   It is only with perseverance and unwavering commitment that you move past that chair and keep going on.

That is my opportunity going forward this week…..