Ten Things I Learned from Failing (in no particular order)….make that Eleven!

On Sunday, May 17, 2015 we closed our Lincoln Park location.  Taking on a second studio location 40 miles from our first location was a huge endeavor.  It required lots of love, heart, and guts.  For many reasons that are not important here, it didn’t work.  But here is a list of some of my first learnings from ,

  1. You never know until you try.  I learned a long time ago if you are going to be an entrepreneur, you are going to try new things.  Some will work, some won’t.  If you never fail, aren’t trying enough new things.  So, I tried a new thing and it didn’t work and the world did not stop spinning!
  2. Don’t let fear stop you. There were moments in the last 18 months when fear stopped me dead in my tracks.  Because this one big thing wasn’t working, I was afraid to try anything for fear it wouldn’t work.  It was paralyzing….when I let it be.  But this kind of fear was all in my head so finally I had to evict it, lock the door and not let it back in.
  3. The light cannot be overcome. It’s a scripture passage you might have heard before: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Well, there’s nothing like a looming failure to leave you feeling like you are in the dark.  Deep dark, pitch black no way out kind of dark.  But then I remembered that passage.  Now, I have to admit I’m a little mad at God over this whole failure thing….after all, the whole plan to expand was God’s plan.  But, I can still hold onto that light.  We name it at the end of every class.  The light in me, the light in you….maybe even the light of Christ…or the light of Christ in you.  Whichever light it is….it cannot be overcome so I just had to hold onto the light – some days just a spark – and trust that it truly could not be overcome when the darkness and despair crept in.
  4. I’m more resilient than I realize. I actually had a moment when I told myself that the Lincoln Park studio could not fail because I don’t fail.  I might fake it till I make it a few times but failure, just not in my wheelhouse!  Talk about audacious! Of course, then I thought for just a few more moments and the list of failures in my life came scrolling before me like credits at the end of a movie: my first short attempt at college, getting divorced, the first version of my master’s dissertation …… Each of those life events was huge at the time and now….not so bad.  I bounced back.  I found support.  I healed.  This loss is a biggie (not as big as some others) but I’ll be okay, I’m resilient.
  5. It’s good to have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal! This connects with #1 but in some ways it is different.  Yes, you have to try but I’ve always needed that next thing in life to be reaching for, to be leaning into, to be working on and working toward.   Yes, those goals have shifted over time but they have always been there.  I’m not sure what the next BHAG will be ….and it might be a bit smaller than this last one but you can be sure there will be one….it’s how I’m wired.
  6. Sometimes the answers are right there in front of you – you just have to look. For months my husband and I went back and forth about the future of the Lincoln Park studio. He’d say we should stop and I would press for more time.  Then I’d say it was time to stop and he’d say, just one more month.  Finally, I ran the reports, wrote it all down, put into black and white and there it was: RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  I think I avoided doing that for a long time because I didn’t want to see the answer but finally I was ready and the answer was right there.  No more time, no more conversation, no more decisions to make.  The decision had already been made there on that paper, I just had to accept it.
  7. Clarity is freeing. Even though the decision to close was difficult and it led to a long to-do list of things to wrap up, move and communicate.  Each time I took a step closer to the closing, I felt better, lighter, more like myself again.  I had been living under a cloud of uncertainty for months and it was suffocating me.  Certainty brought the air back into my lungs!  I began to see through the cloud toward some of those new goals we talked about in #5.  While I was closing down the Lincoln Park studio, I began to dream about new things for the Naperville studio…..little by little plans are emerging and I am finding my way.
  8. No one said it would be easy….but it doesn’t have to kill you, either! Sure, no one said life would be easy or fair.  But when the challenges of life start to drag you down like a rip tide in Lake Michigan, pay attention.  Reach out, get help, grab onto someone!  I don’t know how I would have made it through these last months without my incredible husband and the support of friends and family.  So many stood by shaking their heads in wonder and doubting we could do it but a small group just kept saying, we’re with you.  And often that would get me through until the next wave would hit. It was hard….but you made it easier!  You know who you are!
  9. Just because the studio failed, doesn’t mean I am a failure. There can be a lot of shame that comes along with such public failure which is, I suppose, the reason I avoided it for so long.  But I know in my heart that I did everything I could do to make it work.  I sought counsel of other studio owners, I asked for help, I tried new things. Maybe someone else might have done it differently but I did my best.  There were many external factors that impacted us that we had no control over.  I had to let that all go (still working on it some days) and know that I’m still ok….more than ok, I am GREAT!  As we began to share the news of the closing with friends, the first thing some people said to me was, you are not a failure, it’s not your fault.  It brings tears to my eyes just to write it, that you rushed in to shore me up so quickly.  Thank you for that!
  10. Yoga saved me! Yes, it’s that simple.  The worse things got, the more time I spent on my mat.  The closer we got to closing, the more I needed to practice, to be still, to quiet my mind and my heart.  Many days that one hour on mat seemed like the only sane time in my life.  One day I was asked to sub a class rather than take the class and I almost lost it.  I realized that my mat was my lifeline and I needed to be there as much as possible.  We always talk in class about how our practice on the mat is practice for life, how we face the challenges on our mat help us face the challenges of life.  Well, it’s true and I know that my practice helped me face all of this with grace, equanimity and strength!
  11. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it. See #1 through #10 for a start.  There is more to learn from this – especially from the business perspective – but sorting out the grief and the gratitude makes that so much easier.

Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Still learning,