When I fail, I really fail!

I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the BBC (Portland Place, London) on Tuesday, for their staff.  My girlfriend and I were given a great welcome by our host, Toby, and it was a lovely environment to be in. The area that I was speaking in was a great space to give a talk, with theatre-like seating, and I had a graphic I had created projected large behind me (this is the first time I have done that). The whole building is only a couple of years old and it was built specifically so that almost any part of it can be used as a back drop for filming; and it shows. I was very proud to have the opportunity to speak there.

BBC, David Saville

In my preparation for it I wanted to give the best talk they have ever had and so thought about how I could do that. I have given a few talks and for this one I decided to change the format. It was a risk, but one that I was excited to take.

Previously, I have spoken for the majority of the time and left questions until the end. I know that the audience has got transformative value from them because I have followed up, but this time I wanted to take it a step further.

I wanted to help as many people as possible with their specific challenge and dream.

My talk was called “Channel your passion. Create the life of your dreams” and I wanted each person to go away and take immediate steps to create the life of their dreams. I have done it with my one to one clients and with small groups and so this was going to be an extension of that.

When I imagined it beforehand it was so clear; I knew that I could help them change their life there and then: that I would be sharing so many insights that, if they use any one of them, it could change everything!

As well as the insights I wanted to give them an experience. I saw them sharing their story and then, with my help, discovering where they have been holding themselves back and what they need to do next. It was going to be amazing!

I had never done a talk in this way before; in the run up to it I was excited and also terrified; this was way outside of anything I had done! Instead of having a structure; a beginning, middle and end, I was allowing it to flow freely and go wherever the room wanted to go. It was a challenge and a big risk; but was one I was willing to take so that I could serve them as powerfully as possible.

They were coming to see me and I was going to be there for them; more than anyone ever has. They could ask me anything; share anything and I would guide them and they could see how they are closer to their dreams then they could ever imagine. It was going to be powerful and life changing.

This is where there is a big difference between imagination and experience. There were many unknowns; I didn’t know how many people would show up, it could be 10 or 60. I didn’t know who was coming, what they wanted, why they were inspired to come to my talk, how willing they were to share openly; so many things.

This made it harder to prepare for and cranked up my fear level but I was ok with that because being there for them was far more important than any difficulties I had creating it.

I started by speaking a bit about my own story and then dove right in to help them and so I started asking them questions. I wanted to know their dreams, their passions, their fears and then use them to sculpt my talk; to make it so very personal for them. I imagined that their dreams would be on the tips of their tongues, just waiting for the opportunity to be spoken into the world and that once they did I could use each dream as a lesson for everyone else into how they could create theirs. This is where I failed!

I was asking them to share something very personal and probably scary in front of a room full of people that they didn’t know and they (naturally) weren’t ready for that; I didn’t lead them into a place where they felt ready; I just jumped ahead.  They had just come from work and so to talk about something so far removed from their everyday life in that mind set was a big stretch.

Some people spoke out, which was brave and I was thankful for, but it wasn’t as useful for the room as it could have been. I failed again here because I delved a bit too deeply into the specifics of their story; for me it was fascinating because I wanted  to know more about  them; the more I know the better I can help but,  for a talk it is not as useful for everyone else.

Also, it was being recorded so that people who couldn’t make the talk would be able to listen after and as the mike was on me there is probably lots of dead air as I am listening to each person; again; not the best for a talk. The recording will not be as helpful to those listening as it could have been if I had given the kind of talk I had before. This was my failure number 3.

There were 3 big failures there and other smaller ones, but I also succeeded big too: When I was sharing my story and how I have helped others I could see and feel that they were really with me (ironically, the moments that were similar to my previous talks seemed the most popular), as the talk went on, more and more people started engaging with me, asking deeper questions; some of them gained new insights and practical steps that they could take. I started to feel their passion.

I coached more people simultaneously in that hour and 20 than I ever have before and quite a few stayed at the end to ask further questions. It was wonderful to see their lights switching on and noticing those who are most likely to go and experiment with the insights they have taken from it.

That makes it so worthwhile.

Now that I have gone too far by attempting to coach from the first few moments I know that I can find more of a sweet spot in between those extremes for my next talk. I would never have known that if I had just done the same as I had done before.

BBC, David Saville

I am not a speaker and I don’t want to be a speaker. I want to talk to people and help them change their lives. The more people I talk to the more I can help and that is my passion; that is what I love to do!

During the talk I spoke of failure and how it is not something to be avoided, it is not something you need to pick yourself up from; failure is the path to your greatest success! I failed massively in many ways and yet I feel like I have never succeeded more.

I connected with some great people; I shared powerful ideas; I stood in front of a room full of people, looked them each in the eyes and served them as best I could in that moment. Some will go away and wonder what the hell that was, others will go away and think deeper and at least a few will go away and use something from that to start changing their world. My greater purpose has been served.

In the couple of days since, my mind has been buzzing. I have so many new ideas about what I can do; about how to make my next talk much more powerful; how I can connect and help more people in deeper ways. The experience itself has shifted something inside of me and my boundaries have been stretched much further.

So, that is my spectacular failure and I can’t wait for the next one!!

What have you failed at this week?

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