This week I found myself out in Los Angeles with a rare opportunity. I had the opportunity to perform a business “do-over.” Let me jump in the “Way Back Machine” and give you the back-story here.
Six years ago I conducted a seminar in Las Vegas that did not go well. That didn’t just bother me, it became an obsession. That’s because when you give seminars for a living it is not only unacceptable to put on a bad seminar, it can be damaging to your career. In 25 years of delivering seminars this may have been the second seminar that was not appreciated by a client. What’s more, I felt the problems within the seminar were not only not my fault, the feedback was unfair.
It was unfair because rather than a training room, my client had me conduct the seminar in a hotel room. Rather than a screen for an LCD projector to show my PowerPoint presentation, I was asked to project on a wall where a hotel picture once had been. Rather than a room full of eager participants, I was presented with about ten distracted individuals. It wasn’t there fault; this can happen when the environment is wrong, and you are delivering a seminar in someone’s hotel room.
If you feel sorry for me, don’t be. I’m not telling you that I didn’t feel sorry for myself at the time, but that was the “Victim Voice” in me making some noise. The “Victim Voice” in me wanted to keep reminding me how unfair everything was, and how nothing was my fault. I’ll be you have that voice speaking to you from time to time as well. Don’t listen to it. If you do, your reward will be to make the same mistakes again… over and over again. That comes with the territory when nothing is ever your fault.
I told you what was unfair, but I forgot to remind you that, much like the world you come from, often things are unfair. Our choice is to do the best we can we’ve the hand we have to play, or we can blame someone else. It’s easy to pick the latter, but I’ll pick door number one. I could have kept the laptop in the bag, and not used my precious PowerPoint. I could have put in a few more small group exercises when I saw the group was going to be a challenging one. I could have battled that audience’s apathy with more energy from me. And I could have reconfigured that room to be more conducive to learning. Instead, I initially blamed everything and everyone but me.
Thankfully, I only listened to that annoying “Victim Voice” for a short period of time. I then woke up, took responsibility, and vowed to my client it would never happen again. Rather than become defensive with my client, I took responsibility. A few weeks ago that client asked me to speak again. This blog is not intended to be a blog about how great Rob Jolles is, but I will tell you that today’s session was a whole lot better than the last one. Some would say I was lucky. I’d prefer to say I applied what I learned from the mistakes I made, and put those lessons to good use not just for this audience, but for many audiences I have worked with since that fateful delivery in Las Vegas.
Want to know if your “Victim Voice” is overpowering you? Ask yourself this question every time you feel something unfair has happened to you. “If I could do this again, what would I do differently?” If the answer is, “nothing”, you are a victim. If the answer is anything besides “nothing”, you are on your way to not only defeating that “Victim Voice”, but learning from it and acquiring wisdom.
As for me, I’m smiling broadly as I write this. If doing poorly years ago for this client didn’t bother me, I would be disappointed in myself. However, I didn’t just learn from it. Today, I got another shot at making things right, and I didn’t waste that opportunity. I wonder if I would have even been given this opportunity yet alone been successful with it if I had let that “Victim Voice” have its way.