This post first appeared on my personal blog here
So this post is not about where I’ve been, something I reviewed, travel, hotels or anything like that. This is a far more personal post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but just haven’t felt the motivation to do so. It’s about bouncing back from failure. There are lots of lessons that can be taken from this post. It’s helped me with some clarity first writing it, but it’s also about looking on the positive side of things. It’s about coming back from somewhere when you think you’re at your lowest point – but actually you can bounce back from it.
COLCHESTER ICE RINK
So why I am bouncing back from failure? Back in 2015 I produced a winter ice rink in the grounds of Colchester Castle that on the launch night went spectacularly well. It was 2 1/2 years in the making. A lot of blood sweat and tears liaising with English Heritage, liaising with the council, liaising with partners to pull this off. We sold near 12,000 tickets before we even opened – which everyone, even down to the suppliers were saying was going to be a fantastic success. The team built the facilities. They built the huts. We built things for food outlets. We got a historic fairground in place and people would come!
I’d already successfully delivered number events for the town. My name in the business circles within the town was growing. The ice rink seemed a natural progression and with the ice rink I felt confident that we were going to be able to deliver a great event. I didn’t do anything by halves and for me it was really important that we orchestrated a really good event. The branding was spectacular and the marketing I believe was great and it was all heading towards a great event. We launched at the end of November 2015. I had local sponsors there, we had local dignitaries. We had launched!
However the following morning I woke up to the bad news that overnight the ice rink had melted. This wasn’t any fault of the machines or any person involved in the project – it was just too warm. That winter was by far one of the warmest and hottest winters in history. The warmth continued to the point actually we had to close for a days upon end when the ice rink basically became a paddling pool.
There was no sense in being open with pools of water – there is no way anyone can skate they will just fall over in the water which wouldn’t be fair to them. However we persevered and kept going, we kept trying, we kept on getting ticket sales, but finally just before xmas I couldn’t keep it going. We weren’t alone that xmas. Lots of rinks had issues but this being year 1 people thought it was our fault and it just crashed.
THE FALL OUT
And why do I believe this is one of the best things that ever happened to me? It feels an odd statement to make especially at the time when people lost their jobs and people lost their money. Of course I’m not proud of that fact. I’m not proud of the fact that people lost their jobs just before Christmas. I’m not proud of the fact that people couldn’t pay some bills over Christmas. It’s still haunts me to this day and it still makes me feel upset that this is a situation that I put people in, some people who I had a good friendship with.
The money that I personally invested was lost. The money that other people put in and time the people are put in place was lost. I had friends involved and lots of good people involved in the project – but collectively we lost the battle.
At the time of the ice rink I was running another business as well, a business that perhaps I had lost my way with. I was looking for new ventures. I believed my own hype potentially yes, I had done a number of successful projects and my name was growing in the town.
However the ice rink bought it back to earth. Those who supported me couldn’t anymore publicly – privately they said nice things though which made it slightly easier. My rink partners suddenly distanced themselves – it was a hard time. To protect my other business and to protect the people who work for that business I decided it was better to resign. I’m pleased that my business partners in my original business have kept it going and today it’s a successful business.
FAST FORWARD TIME…
So fast forward now five years on from one of my greatest failures but also greatest moments. I’ve learnt 10,000 times more things about running a business. I’ve learnt I never ever want to go through the business going through bankruptcy or liquidation ever again. It’s a horrible time to stand in front of the people who you money to and explain why. You take questions why your business failed? why did you put their business in jeopardy wise and cost them a lot of money? I never ever want to go through again but actually going through that it’s probably one of the best things that could’ve ever happened.
Steve Jobs famously got ousted from Apple when the board didn’t believe he was doing the right job. He bounced back from failure. He bounced back to bring us the iPhone and the Mac computer. Did he believe in himself? Did he question what he had done?
In writing this post it’s been a therapy process. It’s been a process of putting thoughts into my mind. Some of it is a sore topic still and indeed it’s taken me a while to think about whether I actually want to write this post publicly. I believe it’s important because actually it shows you can bounce back from things. You can bounce back from the lowest point of your life to being something successful again.
I now look forward in 2020: I’ve just had a third promotion in two years at a different company. I’m in charge of a whole region of Europe, Middle East and Africa. I’ve 20 or 30 companies across the region that sell our products looking to me. I sell millions and millions of millions of dollars of equipment every year. I run a team of eight people and I have a about another 20 or 30 people who responding to me. Back in 2015 if you told me that this has been the case I wouldn’t have believed you. I deemed myself in 2015 and start of 2016 as a failure.
So what are the lessons I’ve taken away from my failure? The lesson that the most important one is you can bounce back however bad it is. It’s about how you bounce back and it’s about your attitude to bouncing back. It’s taken a while for me to believe in myself believe in my ability.
At times I wake up in the morning thinking I can’t do this. I’m not good enough for this. People remind me that I am. People tell me that I am doing a brilliant job. Of course it’s great to have praise all times but you still doubt yourself don’t you?
You have the ability to change! I used to aspire to be a Richard Branson. Now working for a corporate company, the likes of former Disney CEO Bob Iger have become one of the people I aspire to. You have the ability to move forward. You have the ability to be a success in life and nobody can tell you you don’t. When you’re stuck in a dead-end job. When you’re stuck in a dead-end relationship. You have the ability to change and bounce back and bouncing back from failure is the keyword in this.
I bounced back into a position which I never could have imagined and it’s taught me a lot. It’s taught me about myself. I’ve learnt more about myself in the last five years than I can imagine. I think I’ve learnt how to be humble. I’ve learnt how to be gracious. I did a short course MBA in 2018 – it was all about the healing process for me. In having a failure in some business circles you put a notch on the bed headboard. You couldn’t tell me that in December 2015. I believed it was the end of my business life and working life. It might take a long time. However It might take five years. It might take 10. But you can come back from it.
This has been a very personal post and this has been a post that I didn’t know whether I wanted to publish or not – but I’ve decided I will. It’s important for my story to show that there is success after failure. The lessons I learnt with this project I never want to lose because they’re important lessons. I have found that I’ve bounced back to a stronger place, bounced back to a happier place and that’s so important to remember.