top of page

How Will You Choose To Fail?

When Failing Doesn't Seem So Scary

Last week I did something new that scared the pants off me.  

It was scary because there was the chance I would fail on a reasonably grand scale, in front of a lot of people. People whose opinions I care about.


On Monday 27th May I was fortunate to host a Panel Discussion for Melbourne Design Week. It involved putting together an application to the MDW committee early in the year, outlining the focus of the discussion, which needed to be inline with their strict criteria. That was the easy part. 


Then I had to assemble the guest speakers, conduct a fair amount of research on the topic and the speakers, host a couple of meetings to help everyone get to know one another, find an appropriate venue, and set everything up ready for the day.


Then there was the ticketing and promotion.


Again, all these elements were relatively easy. It’s what I do at TDC: organise and facilitate events.


However, hosting a panel discussion is a different beast entirely. 


The role of a facilitator is very different from the role of a presenter. You need to be adept and directing the conversation between multiple panellists in a way that feels natural and fluid. It also requires the formulation of intelligent questions - some pre-prepared and some spontaneous - that are specific to the individuals on the panel.


In short, the entire discussion relies on the skill of the facilitator and there are lots of moving parts that can either make or break the whole experience. If the chemistry between the panellists isn’t great, or they get stage fright, it can feel awkward and stilted. If the flow of the questions seems disconnected it can feel contrived.


And… if the host isn’t confident, they might stumble over their words, lose track of the conversation or… choke completely!


The day before the event I was feeling quite anxious, visualising all sorts of scenarios, all involving me freezing up, not knowing what to say, getting up-in-my-head and not being able to logically string two words together. I was aware of how unhelpful this line of thought was to my own state of mind, but I was in a bit of a spiral.


My fear wasn’t totally unfounded. You see, I was in a situation a few years ago, where I was chatting to one of our TDC presenters in front of a smallish crowd, and I started to panic. I don’t even remember what I was panicking about, I just know I was panicking. You know that feeling when your face goes all red, and your ears are burning, and the room feels like it closes in on you


I remember thinking “Oh no! Don’t lose it! Not now!” All I could do was to focus on not losing my sh#t.


Somehow I survived that experience. Heaven knows if anyone else even noticed, but it felt traumatic.


I’ve since been on stage speaking many times, including a presentation in front of over 200 people, and I really enjoy it. But this would be a different experience all together, and I was genuinely worried about failing at the job. There was more than my ego at stake - there was the time and effort that all of the participants had put in, and the trust that the guests placed in me too. 

As it happened, at the time I was experiencing my self-doubt, I was flying home from Sydney. I was listening to an episode on The Imperfects Podcast where they were interviewing Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins.


Among other enlightening things, Pat spoke about how he framed the concept of losing a match. Instead of fearing failure, he proposed to his team that they reflect on how they would choose to fail.


He asked them to think about how they would show up before, during and after the match considering how they would feel if they lost. Would they be proud of their efforts, even in the face of failure?


Far from encouraging them to focus on losing, this approach helped them focus on preparing well beforehand and then giving everything during the actual match. If they were to lose, would they be able to look back and know that they had done everything within their power to win?


The timing of listening to this podcast was perfect. It stopped me spiralling and made me consider how I wanted to fail. I knew immediately that I’d done all the preparation necessary, had briefed the panellists sufficiently, and had formulated a really interesting set of questions that would make for an enlightening conversation.


All that was left to do was show up on the day, ready to give it my absolute best. If anything didn’t go to plan, I knew I’d done everything I could to set the event up to be a success.


(Long exhale) Suddenly, I relaxed. I allowed myself to think about how it would look to succeed. I could envisage how the morning would unfold, and pictured myself expertly facilitating the smooth, flowing conversation.


I also took it one step further, and chose to reframe the way I would enter the venue on the day. 


Instead of coming from a place of fear and doubt, I would walk into the beautiful showroom at Design Precinct and feel proud and grateful.


Proud that I put this amazing event together and grateful for all of the wonderful people who either contributed to the event or gave up their Monday morning to come along.


I’m also proud to say that I’ve failed many times in my life, at many things. I’m proud because it means that I’m not playing it safe all the time. I believe that if I’m not failing, I’m not pushing myself to try new things. 


The event was a huge success, and I had a great time! The venue was amazing (thanks Justin, Mia, Kat and the team), the panellists were outstanding (thanks Sam, Rebeka, Glen and John) and I was totally relaxed and (I think) I nailed it!


Often one of our members will share that they're surprised to hear that I experience self-doubt, or that I sometimes suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I'm flattered that people see me as super-confident, but the truth is that by nature I'm shy and reserved. Just like everyone else, I have insecurities, and they get amplified when you're pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.


It takes a lot for me to put myself out there on a stage, to connect with a broader audience and deliver on my mission to educate and empower the design community to be better business operators. But I keep doing it because I'm passionate about what I do.


I plan to continue to fail, knowing that I'm giving it everything when I do.


How about you? Are you failing? If not, are you playing it safe?


As always, I'd love to hear your stories! 

Until next week, stay well and always be kind.




Recent Posts

See All


התגובות הושבתו לפוסט הזה.
bottom of page