Has this ever happened to you? You’re working on a project and you just can’t get it right. So you decide to trash it and act like it never existed. Yeah. Me, too. But what if, instead of trashing all that work, we decided to start over?
So, this week I was talking to my friend, Kyle, about my reluctance to market a second round of Bootcamps. I’ve created the high level ideas for a marketing campaign, but I haven’t finished it. I’ll work on the campaign for a couple of days, think about ways to improve Bootcamp, and then I stop. I’m ready to trash the whole campaign because I can’t imagine how it could even work.
Kyle brought me up short by saying, “Wait! Don’t drop it. Just start over.” What? Start over? Like I do all the time? Because … life pretty much mandates that we start and stop and start over? Of course, that would be the answer.
But, if starting over is the answer, why is it so easy to jump from plugging along on a project to scrapping the whole thing and walking away?
Perhaps it’s because we think we know how it’s going to turn out. We see how hard we’ve worked and it feels like it’s not right or not enough or just not. And we can’t picture it working out. So we walk away, and, if you’re like me, trash all of the work we’ve done – as if it never even happened.
I’m wondering what would happen if we went through that same process. (I know, it’s painful. But we’re resilient and we have grit!!). And then, when we can’t picture it working out, we stopped ourselves from trashing all of our work and, instead, we hit the reset button and started over?
In this version, we own the work we’ve done. We show ourselves and our work respect by setting it aside. We can put it on a shelf. Or hide the files in an obscure folder on our laptops (my desktops are always good hiding places – both the top of my desk and the desktop on my laptop). Then we can take a deep breath (or a day or a week) and then start over.
Even better, in the starting over version, we get to take the opportunity to allow the possibility – however remote – that we don’t know how our work is going turn out. In fact, it could turn out better than we could ever imagine.
The Universe Weighs In
Really, it could. How do we know it could? Because we are intelligent and savvy, and we know there are forces out there bigger than our tiny brains. And those forces could come to bear on our projects and they could turn out better than we could ever imagine.
Case in point: My attempts to launch group coaching programs. I’m a big believer in the power of groups to jump start and support change. Plus I know the importance of creating face-to-face community when tackling monumental tasks. So, since the beginning of my career as a coach, I’ve been looking for an approach to group coaching that resonates with the women I want to reach.
My first attempt was the Women’s Career Conservatory. Six women signed up for the Conservatory – two of them actually knew what a conservatory was – and we completed a six week program. It didn’t work the way I expected, so I was ready to dump all the work I’d done to create this somewhat successful group and just walk away from groups altogether.
What was I thinking?
I don’t know. Maybe I was willing to dump groups because I’d tried it and it failed didn’t work out the way I wanted it to and I was embarrassed. Maybe I didn’t want to risk screwing up again (and I’m not sure it was a screw up to anyone but me). Who knows? It doesn’t matter.
What matters is the Universe intervened again. Group coaching haunted me. I’d wake up in the morning thinking about it. I even went to a strategy session that ended up affirming the importance of group coaching to my work.
Which meant I couldn’t dump the groups forever. I did dump them for a long time (a year) and then something magical happened. One day, in a committee meeting, one of my friends was telling us about the amazing results she’d achieved through her fitness Bootcamp.
In one of those how-could-I-have-missed-this moments, I realized I could call the groups Career Bootcamps. After all, every woman knows what happens at Bootcamp – while no one knows what a Conservatory is.
Could it be that easy? Maybe. But not for me. I wasn’t going to let it be easy.
I put off marketing Bootcamp for months. Why? Maybe because marketing Career Bootcamp meant I was stretching my neck out, risking that no one would (a) be interested or (b) sign up. And that thought was just plain crazy because women were asking me for a group experience. Even though they asked me for groups, I was still worried that no one would be interested.
So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes (there was wetness involved), and decided to just start over, Becky. This time I took all the work I’d done and learned through the previous groups, added a new marketing campaign, and went for it.
I worked with my assistant and a copy writer to refine ideas and images for a marketing campaign. I even found a killer photo of a pair of sequined boots to use as the image for Bootcamp marketing (see the bottom of this post). Then I implemented the campaign instead of freaking out and trashing it.
By the way, did you catch that three of us worked together to create the campaign? Imagine that. A group.
And here’s what happened. From the results of that one marketing campaign with its one Facebook ad, I created two types of Bootcamps. Why? Because two different types of women responded to the ad: (1) women who were ready to stage their career comebacks after spending time at home raising a family and (2) women who were actively engaged in lucrative careers and were ready to launch new versions of their work lives.
What I learned.
I decided to trust my body of work. The results became Bootcamps for two different groups of women who wanted the same thing – an opportunity to explore what’s next in their careers with a group of women like them.
It worked. It is working. It’s working so well that I’m getting ready to kick-off the next two squads.
Sure, starting over is hard. And, yes, I’ve put off marketing the second cohort for too many months. But this time I’m not trashing the whole thing because I waited too many months. I’m doing it anyway.
Here’s what I realized. Starting over is betting that it will turn out better than we can even imagine.
Go ahead. You can do it.
*smack my head