Failures come in many forms and layers: they can be small, deliberate risks that have large ramifications or unconscious mistakes that have unexpected consequences. But failures have one good thing in common—even the smallest of them can bring you closer to success. Most of us stay in our shells due to the fear of the f-word, lest we dare to do something that ends in disappointment. But what really matters is not the failure itself, it is our attitude towards it; we can either feel bitterly disappointed and miserable, or we can bring forth a positive attitude for a long-term change.
I’ve learnt that I am in a business (wedding planning) where I
may or may not be at fault, but where any malfunction will reflect directly on
my acumen. For example, a bus might get a flat tyre at the airport, but it will
be my job to change the guests’ hotel arrangements. Or the weather forecast could
turn out to be completely inaccurate, and I will be expected to turn things
around in that very minute. You could prepare the best wedding cake, but the
kitchen might not arrange the appropriate knife. I’ve learnt that it’s
important to use these experiences to be proactive and think ahead of time. Not everything
will go according to plan, and that’s okay. If you anticipate them, you will be
better equipped to handle these complete surprises. This only comes with
time and experience.
In most businesses, client satisfaction is usually beyond your control. It depends on a lot of external factors. What is within your control, however, is to put your best foot forward. Certain things may be beyond you; but if you’re insightful and learn to accept what’s within your reach and what isn’t, you’ll find solutions to things at a rate faster than you can imagine.
In my early years of struggle, I learned the failures were harder on me mentally more than anything else! Not everyone will like your work. I’ve had a client tell me to quit this line and do something else that’s more ‘fit’ for me. I’ve had some clients who were unruly, abusive and thankless. While it’s easy to say that their behaviour is more a reflection of themselves, the truth remains that I had invested a lot of emotion and effort in every wedding. Clients have, in fits of anger, told me I can never achieve half of what they have—in the middle of a wedding we are throughly invested in. They’ve doubted the credentials of my team members and interviewed each one of them. I have had the honour of being on the receiving end of some vile comments. I call it an honour because I cannot thank these experiences enough. I’ve been able to use them to change what I may have done wrong, how I could have responded, and to manage people who are not on the same wavelength as us. It drove me to keep getting stronger. I learnt to forgive and forget without asking for forgiveness.
Almost all my experiences with condescending and derogatory clients were at the start of my wedding planning career. I’ve been able to choose clients more carefully and also set my standard straight from the beginning. With time, I learned to be assertive, not aggressive. This came naturally with more success and confidence.
Being realistic is also an important aspect of failure. Once you’re able to accept your own (and your company’s) limitations, the propensity and the frequency of errors go down drastically. You have to be downright honest to the client (and more importantly to yourself), of what you can do and what’s realistically beyond your bandwidth. You learn more from your defeats than your victories. Find ways to take it on your chin, and wake up the next day with the will and gumption to rectify and improve. If you think you weren’t at fault for the defeat, then work on getting into a situation where you aren’t held responsible for a failure that’s not on your watch. I think the beauty of life is that you don’t stop learning. You innovate and reinvent in every situation. This process is infinite!
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