No one cares about your failures (+ 6 other things I learned at PBEVENT)


So I am fresh back from PBEVENT (The Problogger Conference) where I had the absolute pleasure of delivering a keynote session. (A quick aside: people tend to assume that because I’m a hardcore introvert, that I wouldn’t like speaking. Au contraire. If given the choice between speaking to one person or a room of 1000 people, I’ll take the room of 1000 people any day of the week. I love speaking and am dead keen to do more of it. #justputtingthatoutthere)

Anyway, it was a real bucket list moment and despite being hit with ‘PBEVENT plague’ upon arriving home (sooooo many people who attended the conference are now sick!) I’m still on an absolute high. The conference was awesome, the people were awesome, the venue was awesome, and the organisation was whatever the level above ‘world-class’ is (universe-class?).

As always, when I return from a conference, I want to share some key takeaways with you guys. And, as always, my major takeaways are seldom specific to the subject of the conference (which, in this case, was blogging). They tend to be more ‘takeaways for life’. So, without further ado … here are the seven major thoughts I came home with:

1. You create meaning when your strengths and interests meet the needs of the world

The whole concept of a ‘meaningful life’ and ‘how do I find meaning and purpose in my life‘ is a big thing for you guys. It’s something I’m constantly getting asked about. Which is why this Tom Roth quote:

You create meaning when your strengths and interests meet the needs of the world

that Darren Rowse shared in his keynote resonated. It’s a big statement … and possibly it raises more questions than it answers. But if you write down what all your strengths and interests are, then see if you’re using some combination of those strengths and interests to serve the world … then I reckon you’re very much on the right track!

2. Closing the gap between your dreams and reality takes a lot of imperfect action

Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies delivered her presentation straight after Darren’s and it was a powerful one-two combination! Jadah is a passionate speaker yet also very mindful of staying away from ‘inspiration porn’. She encouraged everyone to dream big … and reminded us that this is actually harder than it sounds. Because dreaming big is usually hampered by fear and thoughts of ‘what will other people think?’ And then of course, there is always ‘how would I even make that thing happen?’


{Click for image source}

We’ve all seen this cartoon where we think the achievement of success (whatever success means to you) is linear … but the reality is, it’s not. And the ‘it’s not’ bit is neatly summed up by Jadah’s assertion that closing the gap between your dreams and reality takes a lot of imperfect action.

So give yourself permission to take a lot of imperfect action – and see what happens hey?

3. We all start at zero

This is something we often forget isn’t it? We see someone who is living our dream and forget that at some stage of their journey, there was a zero point. A starting point. A good example of this is Em Rusciano who I spoke about in my keynote. Today Em has 140,000 raving fans on Facebook, a weekly column with, a book deal, a new album coming out next year and regularly performs her comedy shows to sold out venues that seat 1000+ people. Yet, a few years ago, Em was out of work, living with her parents and performing her shows to rooms of 30. And that wasn’t even her ‘zero point’. Her zero point was the point where she decided she wanted to be a performer and started working towards that goal 13 years ago. The good news for you is you’re probably already well past your own zero point. The trick is to keep going now.

4. Look at failure as feedback

I think one of my biggest frustrations in life is seeing people falling short of achieving their potential because they fear failure. ‘Failure’ looks different for everyone, but the end result of the fear of failure is the same: a lack of action, a lack of forward movement. I think this is a huge shame for the world. There are so many people out there whose talents can make the world a better place but they’re not doing so because they’re too busy caught up in their own fears.

There is such freedom that comes from seeing failure as feedback, giving yourself permission to throw something out there, see if it sticks and if it doesn’t … move on. The littlest known thing about this approach is:

We think people remember our failures, but they don’t. 

I’ve tried a million things here on this blog and even those of you who have been reading here for years would have no idea that most of them haven’t worked. Because you only see and remember the stuff that has.

So I’ll repeat this because I want to make sure the message gets through:

No one notices, cares about or remembers your failures! So get out there and try stuff for god’s sake!

5. You can’t outsource authenticity

This was an interesting one from Jadah. In business we’re often told that success comes from being able to scale the things we’re doing. And usually the ability to scale comes from being able to outsource something. But as Jadah noted, there are certain things you can’t outsource.

You can’t outsource authenticity. You can’t outsource heart. 

6. It’s not about how great you are, it’s about how great you make people feel

This was from Jadah too and is in line with a well-loved meme that says ‘How you make others feel says a lot about you’. Wouldn’t the world be a pretty amazing place if we all held ourselves to this standard?!

7. Anything that compromises your health and relationships is not sustainable

I think this is the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past five years so when Jadah said the above, it really hit home. There’s little point pushing towards a big goal or dream if there’s no one to share the achievement with when you get there. The biggest thing all us striver types need to remember is that we have so much more time to ‘get there’ than we think. And if we don’t? If our time on this earth is cut short? We’re not going to find ourselves on our deathbeds wishing we’d pushed that little bit harder to achieve our dreams. We’re going to find ourselves wishing we’d given more of ourselves to the people we love.