Fail Your Way to Success

preston bailey on business failure and business success

(Photo via Diane Lindstrom)

We all want to succeed, but there’s no such thing as success without failure.

I had my first floral failure with my first flower arrangement, a large vase of French tulips. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that I needed to trim the stems before putting the tulips in water. Shortly after I delivered the flowers, I got a frantic call from my client – all of the tulips were dead!

I’ve experienced many more failures since then. Just last week, in fact, I learned that a potential client decided to hire another designer for her wedding. I was extremely disappointed, because I had been so certain my team and I were going to get this exciting job. But I failed to convince this lovely bride that I could bring her understated wedding vision to reality. She didn’t trust that I would design for her sensibility and not my own. This failure was especially devastating because it meant that the bride didn’t trust my creative integrity.

No matter how or when we fail, the best response is to examine the incident with a critical eye and ask yourself what the experience can teach you. With this most recent failure, I learned two very valuable lessons:

1. I cannot expect clients to see my over-the-top designs and immediately believe I can also create understated events.

2. I make it a rule to never start designing an event until I’ve been officially hired. However, I can’t help but wonder if in this circumstance I should have shown the bride what I had in mind. I would have had to invest a few hours of my time to design and render my ideas, but I’m certain I would’ve convinced this bride I was the right designer for her wedding.

You will fail. Repeatedly. And that’s okay. Just make sure you fail smart – always ask the right questions. And remember, failure is an opportunity to learn.

Dear Readers, what failures have you experienced? What did you learn from these failures?

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