Fail forward fast. That's been an adage that's been repeated to me over many years and probably every sales training that I had, especially when it's a new project or a new product. They tell you to fail forward fast. Well, I got to thinking what stops us from going through that process. What's the point of it?
Why do we stop before we're even willing to fail? I will share my fears and anxieties as I go off on this new venture. I will share my obstacles, wins, and losses along the way.
As I spoke about in the last blog, we ran our first set of ads. We had launched our website and our first course, then we decided, “okay, we're gonna run some social media ads.” I have to tell you, the first set of ads bombed, and I mean epic bomb. The average statistics for those of you that are tracking is a click rate of one out of every 100 for a Facebook or Instagram ad. We were five times worse than that, so we killed the ads after a day of bleeding and realized we have to pivot. Was it the copy or the picture? Was it the offer or maybe it was where we placed it at the time of day? We started looking at all the possible analytics.
I had the graphs and everything up in front of me and I decided, all right, I have to take a break. I went for a walk around the campground that we're at right now, and as I was walking around I saw this little dog on a 10-foot chain. When I got close, the dog would run up and yip at me, but it never got me. The dog would get choked back. I started to think, isn't that how it works for us? I am willing to go so far into something, but then I get choked back. Why is that? What is it that I’m concerned about? When I looked at how we had put our ad together and the process that we went through, we were trying to fail forward fast. I realized that we were just a dog on a tether because we were so concerned about how the ad was going to look, how it was going to show up, how people would relate to it, and if the imagery would be right.
Was the coloring right? Was the font? All that is valid, but it was all driven around looking good and making our brand look good. I understand that there is an importance to that, but if it's the driving factor, you're not going to make an impact. You're not going to make a difference. You know, when we look at the adage “fail forward fast”, most of us get stuck at the fail part, like, oh no, we're not going to make it. It’s like we're willing to be successful out of the gate as long as all of our I's are dotted and T's are crossed. However, even when we dot our I's and cross all of our T's, we are only willing to get out there so far.
We only make it 10 feet, and then we get choked back. We get choked back from all of our concerns and considerations about how we're going to succeed. My father-in-law used to say, “Mike, if you're concerned about how or what people are saying about you, or if you're concerned that they're saying bad things about you or having bad thoughts about you, don't, they are.”
And I realized that's true. Gossip happens, bad thoughts happen, but is that going to stop me from doing what I want to do, creating what I want to create, impacting where I want to impact in the world? Well, it can't be otherwise, I'm just a dog on a tether. I'm just stopped by whatever my concern is. Are you a dog on a tether anywhere in your life? Is there something that you want to do, but you're so concerned about how you’re going to look? Will I be embarrassed or humiliated? Will people think it isn’t a good idea? If we're not willing to fail, then we can't go forward, and we certainly can't do it fast.
The initial, “oh man, we bombed our first ad”, was like a punch in the gut. Then, I realized this is an opportunity. We did the fail part. Okay, good. We got that one out of the way. Well, how do we do it forward, right? How do we look forward, do it again and probably fail again? And do it fast, so we can pivot. One of the upsides to this digital age is that failing forward and doing it fast took me a hundred dollars over the course of 48 hours to find out what was really going on with our ad. We pivoted. We created a more cheesier ad. It was more authentic to our story, and we found that it fit.
The ad had already got a 25% better click rate than the average. We let go of the concern of how everything was going to look from the outside. This shows up in more areas of our life than just the copy and the ads that we run. It shows up everywhere. For me, it shows up even with my kids if I want to show them how to do something. We went wakeboarding the other day on a cable line, and I have to tell you I had never wakeboarded before and certainly never on a cable line. I was not going to look good.There was no doubt about that. It took me seventeen times of, boom, right in the lake, before I could figure out the distinction.I failed forward very fast over and over again. But I had to do it because my daughter was there and, and she’s trying it too. If I throw in the towel, then she's going to throw in the towel. She's going to see that I have concerns and considerations because at the end of the day, I could have just kept going over and over again with no issue. The only concern was there were twenty five other people in line behind me watching me just absolutely tank. And so I had to step it up. I had to cut off that tether, so my daughter could see, you know what? It's okay. Each time you learn you fail forward fast. And I have to tell you, if you do wakeboarding on a cable line, then you're going to fail forward fast. It's going to be foreign. You're going to fail, and it's going to hurt the next day.
I'm so sore right now. I'm not even sure I can get my arms all the way above my head, but I took that tether off for my daughter, and I have to ask myself, where else can I take this tether off? Where else can I stop being concerned about how I look, and how it's going to show up so that I can make an impact?
There is a stark chasm between making a difference and how I look. As soon as I give up how I look, then I can start to make a difference. So I ask you over the course of this next week, find out where you're a dog on a tether.
Find out where you're getting choked back because of some concern or consideration about how you're going to look. You might be embarrassed. Push through that. Let yourself fail forward fast.