it’s okay to fail.
posted: April 25, 2013
Nicole is an educator at one of our stores in Toronto and a very cool chick (we love her blog – check it out!) Here is her story about the pursuit of her biggest, juiciest BHAG: working for Ellen DeGeneres.
We’re always taught that if we want to achieve our goals we have to put them out there. So what happens when you publicize your Biggest, Hairiest, most Audacious goal, in a Big Hairy Audacious way and fail?
At 14 my BHAG was born. I wanted to work for Ellen Degeneres. I still do. This is a dream that, up until recently, I’ve kept as just that, a dream, where it’s safe from the reality of disappointment and failure. Many decisions in my life (temporarily moving to LA, going to film school, copying Ellen’s hairstyle) were actually based on that goal. Well, maybe not the hair thing.
In November of 2012, I was feeling down about my future and unsure of my career path, and decided it was time to make my biggest dream come true. Does that sound cheesy? Maybe, but that’s how goals work. I came up with a great idea for a video get Ellen’s attention. I used my mad producing skills to contact former Ellen guests, and with them making cameos in my video, I would (attempt to) write Ellen a song, (attempt to) create a viral video, and (attempt to) learn to dance, just like they did. I was pretty proud of it.
On December 18th 2012 I posted it. In the first hours, it got 1000 views – not “viral” but for a painfully earnest, nine-minute video about me, I was flabbergasted! People were messaging me, texting me, and I had over 60 Facebook friends posting it on their walls, sharing it with The Ellen Show on Facebook and Twitter! I couldn’t believe the sense of community I felt within my little social media world.
At lululemon, one of the ways we learn to make our goals come to life is by visualizing them coming true. I was able to convince myself that I hadn’t heard anything back because her show took a holiday hiatus over Christmas. Friends would assure me I’d be hearing from them soon. I’d have moments where I’d let the possibility of nothing happening slip in, but would quickly remind myself that something had to happen.
Every time I felt like moving on, another Ellen fan or dreamer would reach out to me saying how much my video meant to them, and it would push me to keep trying. I just wasn’t ready to give up, which was a very bittersweet feeling. Half of me was already feeling emotionally exhausted, like a failure, while the other half was pushing me to keep reaching out and hoping the right person would see it at the right time.
My video now has over 5500 views, but as nice as that is, I’m not anywhere closer to my goal. I realized I had to step off my cloud, at least for now. There were a few days, even weeks that it really hurt, and I stopped watching Ellen…because when I did, I’d see other guests she found on YouTube and I felt somehow spurned. I felt embarrassed when every friend I’d run into would bring it up, “have you heard from Ellen? You’re SO going to!” Even though it was my BHAG, I’d felt like I had disappointed everyone else. Everyone had been so supportive and so confident in me, which left me feeling like I had let everyone down.
I was so confident that something was going to happen, I genuinely wasn’t prepared for it not to.
Not every goal is publicized the way mine was. Setting a goal to read a certain number of books, or saving enough money for a big vacation are things that are done, for the most part, in solitude. A little positive self-talk and it’s easy to brush those off if you don’t succeed, but when your 1500 Facebook friends know about you dream, it’s a different story. Especially when the video is so you – it wasn’t my cooking that failed, or my writing, it was just me being me that failed.
but wait! silver linings are pretty cool, too.
Upon reflecting on my Ellen journey, I realized that it was actually awesome. I’d be pretty self-centered if I didn’t realize the support I got from friends and acquaintances. And while it’s easy to be disappointed that not enough people helped, whatever that means, or be embarrassed by the large audience of my failure, I also realized that the greater the community that comes together, the greater the reward will be when I do succeed. I’m not talking about attention, or even fame. I mean that success grows when it’s shared. And I can’t wait to share it.
Things are better now. I’ve spent time thinking alone, watching TED talks (thank you Regina Dugan and Brené Brown) and talking with the people who know me best. I got all my crying out, and I’m back to (mostly) finding joy again watching Ellen. People still tell me they think of me while they watch her show, which I’ve got to admit is pretty cool. I’ve learned that I’d rather my identity be so wrapped up in my BHAG that it’s the first thing people think of when they think of me, than to never have tried. Plus, I’ll still gladly accept an offer from the folks down at The Ellen Show. Afterall, her show just got renewed for four more years. I’ve totally got this!
Sometimes the road to goalsetting gold is not as simple as A to B. What goals have you sought after for years? Have you achieved them? And what have you learned along the way?