Now, I’m not talking about failing once and giving up on the goal here. I’m talking about worthy fails, those which involve attempting something you perceive as unattainable, accepting failure, and trying again and again until you succeed. We’re often so afraid of failing that we don’t even try! We need to change our attitude towards it and see it for what it is – an opportunity for growth, expansion, and success.
Join me this week where I’ll tell you all about my initiative ‘Project Fail,’ and how I had to learn to fail in order to grow my business. Trust me – it did not come easy! I’ll show you why being willing to fail teaches you to show up for yourself in a completely different way, and why you’re capable of anything you set your mind to. Get ready to change your life!
You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 112.
Welcome to The Design You Podcast, a show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth, and joy. Here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.
Hey, everyone. How are you today? Are you faring well through this current stage of the Coronavirus pandemic? Or should I say, are you failing well? Yep, this episode is all about failing our way to success. Many of you will want to run for the hills instead of learning how to fail. I get it.
Your brain may start to have a tantrum right now. It may say, “But, Tobi, we’re not supposed to fail. Not failing is the goal. We are all about succeeding, Tobi. We want to be winners not failures.” I get it. That, my friends, is exactly what this episode is about, failing our way to success. Failing on purpose. It’s really the idea of Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better as Pema Chödrön says in her book. It’s even the title of one of her books.
Failing repeatedly, whether we like it or not, is how we do all the great stuff in our life. Yet, failure and fear of failure is the number one reason that I see in my Design You coaching program and with private clients and with my audience in general it’s the number one reason why they are not reaching their goals and dreams. In fact, they’re often not even attempting them because they’re not willing to fail.
Of course, we understand why, right? We’ve been conditioned not to fail. Our society, our culture, our teachers, our parents, they all have told us time and again that it’s all about not failing and they’ve given us all the reasons why we shouldn’t. “Do it right or don’t do it at all. Make A’s, maybe B’s, but certainly not F’s.” Awards and praise is all for the winning and succeeding. That’s where we get our validation is when we do things right. We don’t get awards for trying and failing, although we should in a lot of instances.
But we feel horrible, we feel embarrassed, we feel humiliated, we have a whole list of emotions that come with a whole concept of failing. Even if we come in 2nd or God forbid 25th or 84th it’s not an option, right? Even second place for many of us is failure. But I want to get clear about something today. I want you to really, really understand this that all the good stuff, all the growth, all the feedback, all the wisdom, all the how-to’s for succeeding only ever come from failing our way to success.
Can you see that? It is so true. If it true, which it is, then why are we so afraid to try things and fail? Why aren’t we willing to be beginners at something or even in the middle? We want to start at the end. We want to be masters from day one and we have no patience with ourselves. When we’re not we tell ourselves all the reasons why we should be good at everything, even if we’ve just started it.
That is why we created these false versions of ourselves, to show the world and even to show ourselves a lot of time that we are “winning,” winning on Instagram, winning to the world. Instead of teaching the lessons we’re actually learning which is what everybody really wants to know anyway and really needs to, we don’t have the guts to do that. We can only really show the pretty parts, the winning parts, the success parts.
This is not to say I think we should constantly be oversharing about the messiest, messiest parts that might be private and personal but there’s definitely a way to show up differently that is so much more real and authentic of what life really looks like instead of only showing ourselves winning all the time and only believing that that’s the acceptable path.
So, those false versions of us that I think give us really imposter syndrome and a lot of us say, “Hey, I have imposter syndrome.” But, of course, we have imposter syndrome, because even though we’re showing the highlight reel then we’re really all the while failing in the background and feeling the gap between what’s really happening and what we’re saying is happening and what we’re pretending is happening. We’re failing in the background at a whole lot of stuff everyday which we should be because we’re trying things and we’re doing things we’ve never done before.
Now, the only problem is not that we’re failing and it’s also not that we win, too, because that’s the ultimate goal, right? Long-term, like failing our way all the way until the point when we start winning, but the only real problem that exists for us is that we believe we shouldn’t be failing. That it’s not supposed to be happening, right?
Clearly, there is something wrong with us or wrong with what we’re doing. We’re doing it wrong and we haven’t found the right way or the right coach or the right path or the right program or something, particularly something outside of us we believe that will allow us to start at the top, to start at the endgame and to not fail, to avoid failure altogether, to skip the whole process of being a beginner, to skip us right to the front of the line so we don’t have to feel all the pain and the suffering that we believe goes with the path that is failing our way to success.
But what if there is another way? What if I told you the solution was not finding a different path, but learning to think a different way about the path you are on and let’s be clear, that you’re supposed to be on which is always going to be the path of failing our way to success because that’s the only way.
You have to go through all of the beginner stuff, and yeah there’s a few things out on the market and in the world and some thinking that accelerates us maybe to success, but there is no path that avoids failure and gets you to where you want to go. So, what if I did tell you that that path, that solution was not finding the different path, but was, yes, just thinking differently? Because that is the truth.
That is what I’m going to teach you today and the way I’m going to teach it to you is by sharing with you Project Fail. That’s right, I designed a project for me and my team for 90 days to try as hard as we possibly could to fail. To not only invite failure in, but to look for it, seek it out, strive for it, make it our mission. Sounds crazy, right?
No, I have not lost my mind. In fact, I just moved my mind and the minds of my team lightyears ahead of where we were just 90 days ago. So, why Project Fail? Well, it came about because of my master coach training experience with The Life Coach School that I’ve been going through for the last six months. I have been a certified life coach since 2017 and last fall I applied for and was admitted to the very select few candidates to become a master life coach through The Life Coach School this year.
As a part of that process, after I completed three months of training and an intensive week, which was amazing, and scary, and horrible, and full of failure, and spectacular all rolled into one that I spent in the Grand Caymans in January with Brooke Castillo and 12 other master coaches. Then I returned home with the requirement of doing a master coach project.
So, think of it like a master’s thesis that you would do for a formal master’s degree. It’s really that culmination of what I have learned through this process paired with my own unique quest to break through my limiting beliefs and take myself, my business, and my clients just like you to places that we hadn’t previously imagined were even possible, okay?
So, no wimpy or half-cocked proposal was getting through the powers that be at The Life Coach School for an approved master coach project. It had to be something legit, robust and probably, if we want to just be honest, something that scared the heck out of me because I didn’t want to fail, right? Fear of failure for my master coach project which made Project Fail the perfect solution to that feeling.
It required some major deep digging and soul searching for what I would attempt to achieve for my project. It was really important that the work, the work that the master coaches and I determined was my work, it was really important that it be the right work. We determined that really while we were in Grand Caymans.
Now, let me tell you a little about me and about failing. So, I’ve been practicing failing myself for years. When I say this, failing my way to success because it’s not like giving up. That’s the opposite. That’s what we call an escape fail, an unworthy fail. But the failing I’m talking about is trying hard things and not on the 1st try or the 5th try or maybe even the 50th landing at the spot or the result that I thought I wanted right off the bat, yet I kept getting up again and again and again and again and trying it again and taking the feedback from the next fail and doing it again until I had success. So, that’s what I mean by fail, fail again, fail better like Pema Chödrön says.
I’ve been doing this for years and from an early age I’ve really been driven to find and seek out hard things and to accomplish what felt like the impossible, to myself and others what was possible for me in many, many ways. So, to a degree I thought I had this failing thing in the bag. Not that it ever fully goes away, but I was pretty comfortable trying hard things and believing that I could do hard things.
Don’t worry if you’re not that way, I’ll teach you how to become a lean, mean, failing machine, but I considered myself pretty good at this already. Now, just me, when I was on my own, I trust myself, I know I’ll follow-through and I really believe I can do a lot of things. So, I was feeling pretty confident in my personal power while I was at master coach training and this one particular moment comes to my mind.
It is a moment when I was sitting on a sectional sofa, those of you that are designers can start to paint the picture of what this looked like. This sectional sofa and then there was another one across the way with 12 other master coach candidates in the Grand Caymans and I recall it now like a bad out of body experience while I was sitting there. Because I’m sitting there, there’s some other already certified master coaches in the room and Brooke is talking not even to me, honestly, but about me.
Let’s just paint the picture that I kind of have Brooke on a pedestal, she’s been my mentor, she’s a badass, she just made $27 million while we’re sitting in the Grand Caymans with 180-degree view of the ocean, the coast, the world, from her penthouse that she’s rented and she’s talking about me to the room almost as if I wasn’t even there. Okay?
So, here’s what she said. She said, “Well, all of you can see that she,” as in me, “that she is never going to reach her huge financial and business goals because she is so committed to controlling everything herself. She is unwilling to get out of the way and let her people help her. She isn’t willing to trust and be reliant on the other people on her team. She’s not willing for her team to fail and because of that there is no way that she will ever create her dream business that she describes to us.” What in the hell, y’all?
As I would say, what in the holy hell? Seriously! I was sitting there watching my mentor who I have on a pedestal, who I think is incredible. Who I like to think I have a lot of things in common with, calling me out and talking about me like I’m not in the room which was one of the best gifts that I ever got I now know.
But in that moment hearing her talk about me and I was thinking, what is happening? My mentor, I admire her, and I’m terrified of her, and she’s telling my peers and other master coaches that I would never achieve my real dreams and my real potential because I was not willing to let my team fail. Wow. Let’s just say that moment will go down in my life as one of the pivotal moments in my life that changed everything.
Being the “failure queen” that I thought I was I vowed right then and right there on that sofa, looking at the ocean, I can still see it, it is literally imprinted in my mind. I decided at that moment that I would make it my mission to break through this upper limit that I was creating for myself of not being willing to get out of the way and let my team fail.
So, it’s also important for you to know that my goal for master coach training from the beginning, three months before I even arrived in the Grand Caymans, when I just had applied and was thinking, “What do I want this to be? What do I want to come out of this?” My goal was to allow me and my company to go from a low seven-figure business, so in the $1-2 million mark because that’s pretty much where I’ve hung out for the last, I don’t know, 10 years.
I’ve created three different revenue streams that have gotten me to that same place. I’m really good at getting there, but my goal was to allow me to go the next level. To get to $3 million or $5 million or an 8-figure business which is $10 million in a single year in the next 10 years.
That ability continually has escaped me for the last 10 or so years that I got really good at having a 7-figure business over and over again. In some years I had two seven-figure businesses happening in the same year. So good at that part, but in this moment Brooke Castillo had handed me the keys to the castle, the $10 million castle on a silver platter right there in front of my peers while not even speaking to me, but speaking about me while I looked out at the sweeping view of the bright, turquoise ocean.
Again, from her penthouse that she had rented for two weeks for master coach training and brought her entire family and her whole staff to because, let’s just be clear she made $27 million last year. She knows how to make far beyond eight-figures, and she can kind of do what the heck she wants to as far as money is concerned, right?
So, she handed me the keys to the castle in that moment. Now, why am I telling you this story and what’s in it for you? Because you’re like, “Well, that’s all great and wonderful, Tobi, and I’m just thrilled for you that you can make seven figures and maybe go to eight while I’m over here struggling to make six figures right or to pay myself at all.”
But this is why I’m telling you this because from that pivotal moment Project Fail was born. Project Fail in phase I, which is what I did for my project, was a 90-day project of me letting my team of what started out as 7, but quickly became 5 core team members – now, we have a lot of other contract team members, too. Maybe as many as like 15 people I work with, but we’ve got these now 5 core team members and it was about letting each one of them fail 25 times over a 90-day period.
Not just tiny, little, weak fails that didn’t hurt anything, but attempting epic stuff which meant, let’s just do the math here, which meant I was choosing to allow 125 fails in my business in 90 days all for the result of designing a path to $10 million in the future.
Now, there were a couple of other stipulations. Here’s one of them. I could not for any reason swoop in and fix their failures which, let’s just be honest, has been my go-to move for years, hence, Brooke’s calling me on the carpet, right? Calling me on the sofa, let’s call it that.
To ensure that that could not happen I limited my time for those 90 days that I was allowed to work in the business. Now, I did other things, I read, and I studied, and of course, kept myself busy because I love being productive, but the actual day-to-day work I was only allowed to do 32 hours a week for those 90 days. So, that’s eight hours a day, four days a week. No working on Fridays, no working on weekends which was a huge shift for me and a major constraining exercise for me, okay?
Then, one of the additional factors in Project Fail, so the other criteria was that we had to increase our revenues by 30% over a 90-day period from our online business, our online offerings that my team was working on which mainly meant my team had to learn to grow the company revenues while I gave my vision and I gave my guidance. But in the day-to-day tactical implementation I got the heck out of the way.
Now, that sort of sounds dreamy, right? Sort of. Like, it sounds dreamy in theory to let other people be making money, but those of you who I know are like me, who are used to controlling things, who are afraid of failure yourself, or especially afraid of other people failing, it’s a little – no, it’s extremely uncomfortable, right? That’s where that fear of failure piece comes in.
So, here is how Project Fail was put into action. We worked through an approach, a concept I learned from The Life Coach School called “The Impossible Goal.” The way The Impossible Goal works is you select a goal that you believe to be impossible, not pie in the sky, not like I’m going to learn how to fly with some electronic wings or without any wings, I’m just going to start flying by 90 days from now like my body, right?
Probably not possible, but something that is legit and that’s a stretch, but you currently believe it to be impossible or at least you don’t know how to get there. You’re pretty sure unless you change some major things you can’t just keep doing what you’ve been doing and reach it, so for me and for our company that was selecting the impossible goal of $3 million in revenue for 2020 because, again, I’ve told you, we’ve been even as high – I think one year that was an outlier in 2009 we hit $2.8 million, but pretty much year after year I’m in the 1.2, 1.8, 1.5, 1.6, 1.9 and I’m just super comfortable there and that is about half – if we’re just kind of rounding it up, it’s about halfway to $3 million.
Since 2019 had specifically been right about half of that, then I really decided to choose basically doubling my income this year. That’s what I picked as my impossible goal. So, it wasn’t just for me, but I selected it for the team as a whole, the impossible goal of $3 million and then I set the team to work on it. Not Tobi working on it, the team working on it.
I gave vision. I gave input. They could pick my brain. They could tap into my zone of genius because obviously, I have a lot of genius and experience and I’ve done a lot of things right, so we don’t want to eliminate the positive parts of what I could add to the equation, but we want to get me out of the way and that’s exactly what we did. So, I put them to work and the way we put the team to work is the impossible goal concept teaches you write out, to brainstorm and then select 25 epic actions or really what we call 25 epic fails that you’re going to attempt over a 90-day period and those were based on each person’s role with the company.
But these were in an effort to land at the result of $3 million for 2020. So, they included everything from the team taking over implementation of social media without me swooping in to tweak or that kind of thing and their result they were looking for to help us get to $3 million was to double our following this year because we get a lot of sale through our social media.
They also started an initiative called No Member Left Behind which was a customer service initiative and retention program for our Design You membership. The concept was to get 100% of our current membership, which is more than 200 people, engaged and using and responding to us and really thriving in the Design You membership. Because as any membership, you can imagine, there’s the rock stars that are engaged all the time, there’s some people we kind of never hear from, and then there’s a lot of people in the middle that use it pretty well, but they’re not optimized in the program. So, that was No Member Left Behind that they came up with.
Then, we had also one of the initiatives was to create a sales process that relieved me from a lot of the sales conversations. Because I was usually right in the thick of that and we kind of looked to me as like the super salesperson, the one that could always close the deal. It really freed me up to be in other parts of the business where my zone of genius was especially needed like podcasting and coaching on live calls and teaching webinars and that sort of thing and it required us to extrapolate and articulate what it is that I do to close sales so we could replicate that in our company.
So, they really stepped up and figured out the sales process to contact people and respond to hot prospects and really have other people start to get really good at closing sales. We also had an initiative of cleaning up the team schedule and their productivity which you know, if you’ve listened to my podcast and you’ve listened to the time management podcast, I had this dialed in pretty well in my own personal life and in the way I use scheduling in the business.
But that wasn’t necessarily the case of all our team members. We still had some people being inefficient, being inconsistent, and so cleaning up their schedules, their time management, and their productivity and shifting the team from doing tons of tasks that never really seemed to create the exact results we were looking for in any given area.
Of course, when that would happen and we wouldn’t get a result, guess what, Tobi would swoop in and muscle through and get the result, but by elevating their time management skills and even requiring them to do this as part of their role and as part of their employment and membership on our team they had to really step it up in this area.
They had to learn what results we were looking for in that 90-day period, so they could start to reverse engineer what tasks they were doing and how those things showed up on their schedule. They could no longer rely on the fact that if we got close to the end of the month or a quarter or a period or a sale or a project or anything else that we were trying to attempt that if they weren’t quite there they could just step back and expect me to swoop in and seal the deal or write the caption or hop on the call or fix the problem. I was no longer available to them. Very scary. Very scary for them and for me.
When you imagine – and those are just some of the things we did in just a 90-day period, so when you imagine how they were feeling and how I was feeling we were all feeling completely terrified of the fact that failure was highly likely. In fact, it was even inevitable in most cases. Failing the 1st time or the 5th time or the 8th time but being willing to believe that if we kept getting up and I kept staying out of the way and they kept taking feedback from me or a customer or the world or our social media audience and applying it to the next version, the next iteration, the next step that they would get incredible results.
Now, the point of the impossible goal, and this is really important if you’re going to start to implement this in your own life. The point of the impossible goal is that you already know that it’s impossible. You’ve already decided before you even attempted that the chances of you completing the entire thing at 100% and hitting the exact result you were hoping for is impossible. That’s when we call it impossible goal.
The beauty of this is if you already expect to fail at least in some capacity, if you already expect it then your brain stops trying to resist failure. It stops being afraid and stops spending all of this energy wondering how not to fail and it just decides to move forward with imperfect, but very thoughtful action to see how far you can get, right?
So, it’s not, again, just like an escape failure. You’re just like, “Whatever. I’m going to fail anyway. I might as well not even try.” It’s not that. That is giving up, but what it is is trying the best you know right now, but not waiting until you perfect it or worry about it for weeks and finally get the guts to do it. It’s like, okay, what do we know? What do we think? What makes the most sense? Okay, let’s go ahead and take that imperfect action and see how far we get, see what kind of feedback we get.
Then it turns all of the feedback that in the past when you failed you made that feedback mean something about you. You made it drama is what you made it. You got feedback. If you didn’t quite get there and you’re like, I knew I shouldn’t have started. I knew I was not cut out for this. I knew I was stupid. I knew I wasn’t good with money or I knew I wasn’t a good salesperson or whatever list of reasons that you would put to it that’s all the drama.
When you’re already expecting to fail, you can just stop that whole conversation in your head. You can just park it. It’s completely unnecessary because the just becomes math. It’s just facts. It’s just data. When that is the goal to try something in an effort to get data instead of trying something in an effort to get gold starts from yourself or others or the world, a client trying not to make someone happy, but truly just going, “Let’s try it. Let’s see how far we get, and let’s see what the data tells us.” Then you start to show up in a completely different way.
Then you can cut out all the stalling and whining and posturing and cavorting and all that stuff that comes from trying not to fail and you can just sort of think, “Okay, the faster we move forward, the fast we get feedback, the faster we can try again and fail again and keep getting back up until we get all the way to success and it saves you and incredible amount of time and it gets you to the result you really want, the one that actually feels like winning 10 times or 100 times, but so many times more faster than you could possibly imagine when you’re doing all the drama version of the old day of trying to avoid failure.
It is incredible I can’t even tell you how life-changing this is. On some level, I knew I had to do this and I was for sure up for doing this in my own life, this failing on purpose in my own life, I had not until this mater coach project ever really known or noticed that I was holding my team and my company, but especially my team to a standard of not failing or at least was holding myself to the standard of fixing their fails when they did happen, but not really allowing them. Then I’m not allowing the team to fix their own fails. Okay?
As a result I robbed the team and the company time and again from the incredible feedback from the data that they needed to step into what they could become and make more money for the company and for themselves. To create a ridiculous amount of confidence and skill that they can only create from trying something and failing and trying again and failing and trying again and again until they succeeded.
So, I was the only one benefitting, can you see that? Because they would try fail and then they would essentially have to quit because I would shove them out of the way, and I would swoop in and I would fix it. So, I got the benefit of failing and fixing and they didn’t get that benefit ever. Then I was curious, and surprised, and confused on why they never seemed to be able to meet my expectations at a certain level, and of course, they couldn’t.
Because they hadn’t development the skill because I was robbing them of the path, the path of failing to success that they needed to get the skill to get the confidence to get the wisdom that they needed to get, right? Mind blowing. I hope your brain is blowing up right now over this.
So, doing this work, failing over and over is kind of like The Little Engine That Could. I think I can, and you keep pushing forward, right? Or maybe it’s better wrapped up in the old saying, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But most of us don’t live by that motto even for ourselves. Most of us avoid failure at all costs and we certainly don’t allow for others – our team, our families, our children to fail on our dime, on our time, and greatly due to the fact that when they do we make it mean something negative about us. About them, too, but also about us.
We don’t want to feel the feeling that comes from failure. Here’s what we call that. We have a limit to our failures. What we really want to call it is we have a low, or even very low failure tolerance and it’s through failing and failing better and failing more often and failing on purpose, what do I mean by failing on purpose? Meaning, we choose something hard to do and knowing we’re going to be a beginner at first and knowing we’re not going to get it right for a while, but we choose to do it and keep doing it anyway, taking massive action towards it. It’s in that process that we increase our failure tolerance.
You can’t increase your failure tolerance without failing, yet most of us are doing everything in our power, every single day not to fail. So, let’s be clear, again, let’s go a little deeper into what kind of fails we’re talking about. We’re talking about epic fails, big things, stretching things and we’re talking about worthy fails.
Again, worthy fails mean that we’re really attempting the action in a way that we think will worth or at least based on what we currently know, and maybe a little research or a little consulting with somebody or whatever, but not wasting hours or weeks or days or years to perfect it, we kind of take what we currently know and we got ahead and take the action.
We know full well that there’s a pretty good chance that it might not work at all and more likely parts of it won’t work. Something will work. If just what works is the fact that we fail and get the feedback, that’s a positive, but we are completely committed to real action that we believe to be the best we know right now. It’s thoughtful. We make a decision and move forward. That is what a worthy fail looks like.
What it does not look like is giving up, throwing in the towel, half-assing something, constantly second guessing something. It doesn’t mean throwing out any kind of behavior just to get the fail over with. The unworthy fails, quitting ahead of times, the escape fails to escape the fact that you’re trying to do this and just get it over with they don’t even help. Because think about it, failing just to escape the situation and the problem, that kind of failure doesn’t even really give you any feedback at all because your attempt was not worthy.
So, if you were just like, “Well, I’ll just do this thing that’s not even close to the right path.” What feedback do you get? Yep, you’re right, it wasn’t close, but you don’t get any valuable feedback that really tells you, if you had just tried this a little more or maybe if you did it this way or you rewrote the copy or used a different photograph or tried a different sales script, something that’s measurable then if you use that kind of tactic the feedback you get moves you farther down the path. It actually highlights the next step you need to take. Unworthy fails and escape fails don’t highlight anything except that you’re quitting ahead of time, that you’re failing really without even trying and that’s not what we’re talking about.
Why is this important to know? We already know the feedback on those sorts of unworthy fails, right? So, even doing that is a waste of your time. So, it’s really talking about the action, again, just to reiterate, it is the closest to what you think will work without perfectionism so that it moves you forward and it gives you the next set of information.
Now, I also want to be really clear here. The goal of failing your way to success is actually not even winning. If you keep doing it, if you keep getting back up, if you keep using the feedback to move you to the next step you ultimately will win, but the goal of this process is not winning which is a little hard to deconstruct in our brains. Because we’re like, “Yeah, I’ll try it,” but at some level we may think I might be willing to fail 50 times, but hopefully I won’t have to. Hopefully I just win on time #2 and that’s not what we’re talking about here at all because that’s you still in the unwillingness to fail.
So, what the actual goal is is not winning, it’s learning. If we do enough learning through our actions and then use the enormously valuable feedback to try again then eventually by nature of continually doing this process of failing and learning, and failing and learning, and failing and learning we will land at winning.
A lot of times the winning we land on doesn’t even look like the winning we thought we were after. Maybe it’s just different. Maybe it’s better, but we will definitely get to a result that we are satisfied with that meets our needs, that meets our desires if we continue this process. But what we really get, which is the ultimate in winning, which is the ultimate in success is we get all those things I was talking about that I was robbing my team of, we get the confidence and the wisdom and the trust in ourselves that we will follow through, that we will show up the next day even when it’s hard. That we will do what we say we’re going to do. That is the most valuable gift of this process.
So, here’s what Project Fail looked like for my team. It was hard. Let’s just not sugarcoat it. Let’s not pretend like because I’ve told you about how amazing the results that it wasn’t hard in the moment. It was absolutely hard. It took work from everybody. It took a ton of work from me. It took me being nervous and scared and frustrated. It took me wanting to quit and other people wanting to quit.
It even included some people quitting. We had one team member that a week into Project Fail quit. She stormed out of a meeting, she cursed me out on a Zoom meeting in front of other people and told me how she had never been treated this way in her life and didn’t know what kind of voodoo mind stuff I was trying to pull, but it wasn’t working on her and she wasn’t tolerating it.
That, my friends, is what happens when your failure tolerance is really low. I didn’t judge. I mean, I guess I judged like I assessed what happened. I didn’t negatively judge her. I wasn’t mad at her, I wasn’t offended at her words because it was so clear to me when we were doing Project Fail essentially under a microscope and watching the process unfold and watching what was happening it was so clear to me that what we did was bump her against a ceiling of her failure tolerance.
So, you might look at your own life right now and maybe you don’t even have team members yet. Maybe it’s you that needs to learn to do this, but you can start to look at how you’re willing to fail and how you’re learning to fail. If you really attempted this like I’m attempting, would you be quitting in the first week? Would you be running out? Cursing yourself or the concept or me because you learned it from me, right? You would want to, and we all want to.
This is why I wasn’t really judging her; I get it. I kind of wanted to curse myself and run out, too. I get it. It’s not fun at first because we haven’t conditioned ourselves to feel this way. It’s like training. It’s like training for anything.
So, that happened. I wanted to quit. My other team members wanted to quit. A team member did quit. We asked another team member to leave that we’ve loved, but we had just outgrown her and right off the bat that happened in the first two weeks, both of those team members being gone. But it showed me progress instantly. Because maybe you can see that it would show you progress, too, if you started this initiative.
Maybe you’ve been quitting on yourself and basically doing all of these things and making the problem a bigger problem for you. Really making all of the drama and all of the issues that “are happening to you” the villain because you didn’t succeed and blaming the thing or the client or the economy or the world or something else outside of you for why you’re not creating your dream life, but the truth is you just have a really low failure tolerance.
You’re not willing to feel the discomfort of failure. You’re not willing to fail and get feedback and try again. So, you have been giving yourself, by something outside of you the villain you’ve made yourself the victim which gives you permission to stay in your comfort zone. You might even make your schedule the villain, right? “I don’t have time to do that stuff, Tobi.”
So, any time there is something external from you that is the reason you’re not doing it that means you’ve vilified that thing, you’re the victim and the sole reason we do that, and trust me we all do it in different areas in our life, but the sole reason we do it is to stay in our comfort zone. When we stay in our comfort zone there is a zero increase in our failure tolerance.
Maybe just like Brooke told me, this podcast is telling you that unless you change your ways, unless you develop a tolerance for worthy fails, and unless you learn to move through resistance and your fear of failure and your fear of rejection and your fear of looking stupid and unless you start practicing failing on purpose 25 times a quarter towards an impossible goal then maybe you will never come close to reaching the goals and the dreams that you have for yourself that keep seeming like they’re out there some day. They’re at arm’s length from you which is exactly how I felt year after year after year while I have been to world looking in super successful, right? A lot of people would love to have a seven-figure business, but it’s not what I wanted to achieve.
I wanted to go next level, yet I wasn’t seeing the path for next level and that path is failing your way to success. So, here’s what I want you to know. Here’s the list of results of Project Fail when I got out of the way. Our team stepped up in so many ways and they failed their way to a new sales process to two of key team members starting to close sales. One has closed and renewed members in the double digits now, like 10 or 12 or I don’t know, 20, and the other’s failing her way through 3 or 4 and learning all the while.
So far 87% of our membership is now highly engaged. So, we haven’t hit 100% yet with No Member Left Behind, but we have increased that by a lot. Probably by 30% or more. The team made personal phone calls to over 200 members and when they got their voicemail, they called them back again and sent them a message.
The people that they haven’t contacted yet, which is a very short list of people now, they still try. They reach out to them every week because we are committed, really, they are, to contacting every single member. I got out of the social media planning process. I started just giving them my vision for it and then the topics and the kinds of things that I want to say in social media, and they are blowing my mind with what they’re creating.
Essentially, they create the plan now and they delegate it back to me. They’re like, “You need to do a story on this, and you need to talk about this, and let’s have a video on this.” That whole management piece has been relieved of me and we’re crazy, crazy, crazy good results and we have so much exciting stuff planned for the next quarter in that area.
So, we also hired a new copywriting team, so the two people that left were both copyrighters. One quit, one we moved on from. Now, we have an incredible new team that is taking us to a totally different place than we’ve before. We hired a new Facebook Ads team, so we moved away from the old one.
We removed me from all marketing meetings and we just have the leadership team meetings where I’m in those and they pick my brain, but the marketing team is running like clockwork now and doing great, big things and then they’re reporting back to me and it’s beautiful.
We created a leadership team by elevating some team members internally to take on jobs and roles that I was previously unwilling to see how I could let go of them. Now, they run them which is beautiful and we’re working to really refine that. So, that was all new for me to have this leadership team.
We created a system for reporting which is like key performance indicators and dashboards showing the status of all sorts of things from marketing to sales to other things, social media growth, and we can look at those on a weekly basis really in a dashboard format.
This is my favorite one. In February our online sales from January to February dropped by 25%, okay, because I got out of the way. Which a lot of people would panic right off the bat. Like, “Oh my gosh.” Immediately, Tobi stopped selling and doing her things and we immediately dropped 25%. Not only was this down 25%, this was actually down 50% from December, because we had had a really strong Q4.
So, a 25% drop in February, that’s a lot of money. In March it was back up by 50% and by April our sales which the team was closing, the team was marketing, the team was facilitating were over $100,000 per month for that month from those combined efforts of me being the leader, but them doing the work. Them putting me on webinars with them running the backend of the sales process. It was within a couple of thousand dollars with them running it from the money we had made in December when I was running it.
So, literally in these 90 days, they dropped, it looked out it bottomed out, but they were able to fail their way right back up to an equivalent number that was equal to the one I had done in a really high month, in December just a few months before.
Oh my gosh, this is incredible. The trust I now have in them to allow me to get out of the way and know that, yeah, at first it might look like we’re going backwards, at first it might look like we’re tanking, but if we are committed to this failing to success process it really doesn’t take much time at all for us to meet or even exceeded where I envisioned us going or being.
So, yeah, they failed big time in February, and I didn’t swoop in to fix it. I just guided and I answered questions and I shared my vision and I gave feedback. They stepped up and failed their way right into a $100K month in April for our digital sales and products.
Again, just a few thousand dollars of what I had done when I was muscling through this my own late last year. So, now they see what they are capable of. I see what they’ve capable of. Project Fail is now an active part of our business systems.
We have moved on to to our 125 fails for Q2 or the rest of Q2 because Project Fail was really a month late starting at the very beginning of this year. We started February to April, so there’s two months left in Q2 and we’re moving into our fails for that period.
We have big plans and I mean BIG, big plans for team members and our business results for the rest of 2020 and beyond. The best news is I am now really just the visionary in a lot of ways. Now, I do, of course, play some amazing roles in the company in my zone of genius. I’m the leader, but I’m no longer the wonder woman, the person carrying all the weight on her back, the person swooping in to fix every problem. People are learning to fix their own problems and a lot of times fix them even better than I would fix them if I were swooping in.
Although I didn’t hit 32 hours every week, let’s just be honest, I failed it a lot of weeks which is the whole point of the impossible goal, you’re going to fail sometimes.
There were weeks that were 36 hours or 40 hours. I think the most I worked though over the 13 weeks in a few weeks was 40 hours. I did not have 50- or 60- or 80-hour weeks ever and I hit 32 many of the weeks and now I have much more perspective on what and how much to keep delegating and deleting to hit 32 hours for Q2.
So, I didn’t abandon the 32-hour things once the life coaching project was over. I didn’t say, “Okay, sweet!” I can go back to working all the time. No, I wanted to stick with this amount of work because I want to create a life with more freedom and more downtime and more time to do the things I want to do. I’m committed to failing my way to a 32-hour a week schedule really dialed in that still allows us as a company to hit our epic goals.
I can see now that just because I envision something for our team and I envision something for the company, I don’t have to the person to map it out anymore. I don’t even necessarily have to set a ton of vision.
I don’t have to be the person championing it and reminding everybody about it and rah-rahing it if I don’t want to. I can truly have a concept or an idea and I can turn it over to very talented team of people who maybe, just map out and likely will in a lot of areas map out an even better version of what I could’ve come up with on my own. I can allow them to make it happen.
That, my friends, is probably the dreamiest version of a business that I could ever imagine. So, yes, after Project Fail, I do have more of my life back than ever before in many, many ways. Maybe a better description than having my life back is I have my mind back. I have so much of my mind back that was spend on frustration and problem solving and swooping in and banging my head against the wall and areas and I have that all back.
Now, I’m more excited than every about the possibility of what lies ahead for this business and my team. Because if I can strong arm a $1-2 million business for the last 15 years and carry the weight of that mostly on my back, what is possible with the right team of people with a high failure tolerance and a willingness to believe anything is possible, and me staying out of the way, in so many areas. What is possible for that team and that business? What are they capable of?
I can tell you right now, we can’t even fathom what we’re really capable of. That may be the most exciting piece of all. So, I choose to believe now and I did not believe this before Project Fail when I didn’t even trust a lot of my team members, but now 90 days later I choose to believe that we are capable of anything we set our minds to. $10 million doesn’t even seem like a big enough dream anymore. It seems small. It seems like we would be holding ourselves back.
I want this for you. So, if you want to learn more about Project Fail, if you want to see more content about it and learn more about it and even watch some of the trainings that I created to go with my master coach project submission then head over to TobiFairley.com/projectfail and register to get access to the whole project, the results, the training, the whole thing, to help you learn that failing on purpose is the one, and I mean the only one, but failing on purpose is the one true path to success. Okay, friends. Happy failing. I’ll see you next week.
Thank you so much for listening to The Design You Podcast and if you are ready to dig deep and do the important work we talk about here on the podcast of transforming your mindset and creating a scalable online business model there has never been a more important time than right now. So, join me and the incredible creative entrepreneurs in my Design You coaching program today. You can get all the details at TobiFairley.com.