by Janice Jaicks

Have you ever taken time to reflect on things in your professional life that didn’t turn out well? Maybe it was a new concept that completely tanked. Maybe you lost money paying for a service you didn’t need. You might have missed out on “the next big thing” because you were busy doing something else. It happens, right?

FitnessFest (the company) has seen its share of projects-gone-wrong and great notions falling flat. Did you know that one year we helped plan an event for a larger company and right before it was set to happen they took our ideas, didn’t pay us a penny, and hosted it on their own? Lesson learned: always have a contract in place before doing the work! Another big WHOOPS was that time we tried to start a FitnessFest clothing line. Sure, the pants were great and we all still wear our hoodies…but the cost, effort, and time spent slogging the merchandise around for a few $15 sales was definitely not worth it in the long run. Lesson learned: stick to what you’re good at! One more adventure into failure was creating an “educational” obstacle course that included exercise circuits and games that taught lessons about making healthy choices. We thought it was great! Our client – not so much. We found out later that they were just expecting us to bring a giant inflatable and call it a day! Lesson learned: be clear on what your client wants!

But there’s another important lesson here. You MUST fail in order to learn. You have to take risks to find the places where you do succeed.

Just because we had an awful experience planning one company’s event, that didn’t stop us from partnering with Drs. Dan Ritchie and Cody Sipe to help create the Functional Aging Summit. What’s more, after two years of working together on that project, they took it over completely and are having great success (and we’re thrilled for them!). Lesson learned: you can do amazing things with the right people.

We also partnered up with TheFitExpo for two years to host some continuing education workshops alongside their massive consumer expos. We brought in fantastic presenters, kept the tracks small, offered popular topics, and gave a killer deal…and the people who attended were impressed! The feedback from the attendees was stellar! The camaraderie with TheFitExpo team was wonderful! But…it just didn’t work for us. The time it took away from our flagship event, the expense of traveling, and the low numbers in the workshops did not equal a good thing for the business. And that’s okay. Lesson learned: if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

I challenge you to review your own hard lessons. Have you had a few? What did you change to improve? Do you have a huge success that never would have happened had it not been for a big flop? Tell me a story!