Perceived failure & lessons learned

If your intentions are set and your radar is finely tuned, you just never know when or where you’ll discover some of life’s most valuable lessons.  Let me tell you about some lessons I took away from one of my own recent experiences.

Many of you were very enthusiastic about a post I published back in early June about my semi-first triathlon experience: an attempt to do the Athleta Iron Girl Tri.   What an interesting day that was.

20130630_09786_X1(For context, just let me add that I am a fledgling triathlete.  A beginner. A toddler compared to many athletes. A year ago if you had told me I’d be doing a triathlon, I would have thought you mildly insane.)

Also, if you read that previous post, you may recall that after feeling frustrated, ticked off, and even like a bit of a failure when I was daunted by the crazy weather conditions and bailed, I listened to the advice of my oldest sister and immediately signed up for another triathlon. (After all, we Parks girls are not quitters.)

I’m pleased to report that I kept on training for several more weeks (which turned out to be very beneficial).  And on June 30, I not only participated in the Skeese Greets tri in Austin, Texas, but also finished. And (okay, I’m bragging here) I finished far faster than I had estimated.

Sadly, the fun friends I made at the first triathlon, Joanie and Mimi, were not there. However, I made several new friends and experienced a plethora of valuable life lessons and aha’s.  Here are some of them:

  1. There is no shame in quitting when there is thunder, lightning, and winds gusting up to 30 mph.
  2. Bad weather, delays, and other less-than-perfect condition can be gifts in disguise.
  3. When things don’t go your way, put on your big girl panties (or big boy boxers), suck it up, and try again.
  4. There’s this thing called Divine Timing. Don’t mess with it. Let go. Embrace it.
  5. What seems like failure may feel awful, but you will receive valuable lessons from it.  (You just won’t know it right away.)
  6. Know what you want to experience so you’ll: a) be ready for it and b) recognize it when it happens.
  7. Even if conditions start to look bleak [a second or third time], don’t assume you’ll have a[nother] bad experience.
  8. Sometimes the clouds suddenly part and the sun comes out. Be ready for that moment.
  9. Feeling alone?  Get over it. Strike up conversations with people around you. That’s how you make friends.
  10. Standing in line is a perfect place to start a conversation.
  11. Small talk is fine. It soothes the nerves.
  12. Be yourself.
  13. Smile. Be an energizer. Cheer for the person who is struggling.
  14. Not everyone will recognize, “get” or appreciate your sparkling personality and clever wit.  Whatever.
  15. Someone in the crowd is more stressed out or scared than you. Helping them calm down will help you feel better as well.
  16. Obstacles may look big, but if you are prepared, you can probably conquer them.
  17. Tell yourself how much you LOVE [whatever the next big challenge is].  Or get sassy and declare it out loud.  (How’s that feel? Pretty good, right?)
  18. Proceed to kick said obstacle’s butt.
  19. Observe, take notes, and learn from people who are more experienced.
  20. Some people will take themselves far too seriously. Again, whatever.
  21. Pretend you know what you are doing, even if you don’t.
  22. You can only organize, arrange, and stare at your stuff for so long.  Eventually it’s time to get on with it.
  23. Yoga in the rain can be fun.
  24. Wet burrs are kind burrs.
  25. Be kind, even if you get clunked in the head with someone’s foot or other extremity.  Don’t take it personally.
  26. Transitions can be rough, but being prepared and organized helps.
  27. You never know who is connected to who — or how closely.
  28. You will probably do better than you think.
  29. Air and water are pretty important.
  30. A well-timed, well-chosen snack is good, too.
  31. Do not underestimate the strength, wisdom, and sheer determination of the person who is two decades older than you. (Ever heard the saying “Age and treachery will beat out youth and skill?” That applies nicely here.)
  32. Have fun.
  33. Celebrate your accomplishments with friends, old and new.
  34. Beer before noon — under certain conditions — can be a beautiful thing.
  35. Smile for the camera.
  36. When you complete one goal, come up with another.

Have a recent challenge that kicked your butt? Or one you soundly conquered?  What lesson(s) did you take away?  Do share!

Need an objective, creative collaborator to help you work through something related to networking or business?  Contact me at Patti[at]  Let’s set up a complementary call or coaching appointment.

12 Responses to Perceived failure & lessons learned
  1. Mary Gray
    August 6, 2013 | 11:14 am

    I swear, Patti, your message was intended for me to read TODAY! I’m facing a big fear here at work, but your “pep talk” has helped tremendously. How do you always know what I need to hear?

    Thank you!


    • pattid
      August 6, 2013 | 3:06 pm

      Hi Mary. Thanks for this lovely comment. I’m pretty sure you are the one who knows what you needed to hear and you recognized it when you saw it. Bravo for you!

  2. Laura
    August 6, 2013 | 1:46 pm

    Proud of you, Patti! Can’t wait to see what your next goal is.

    • pattid
      August 6, 2013 | 3:05 pm

      Thank you, Laura. I have several brewing…my Discomfort Zone is becoming a more comfortable place.

  3. Patti DeNucci
    August 6, 2013 | 3:04 pm

    Let me also add that I totally screwed up the photo and text wrap in this post! Sorry. I was experimenting with WordPress and totally blew it. But it wasn’t a failure – it was a Learning Experience….

  4. Mary Anne Connolly
    August 6, 2013 | 4:17 pm

    Yep, siree Bob, your timing was PERFECT with this one today! Though I’m making incremental progress on what feels like a mountain of personal and professional goals, I was feeling pretty frustrated today…until I read this post. Especially embracing #2 + #4 + #5! Thank you, Patti and can’t wait to catch-up very soon! Congrats on the Tri!

    • pattid
      August 6, 2013 | 4:48 pm

      Thank you, Mary Anne. As I told Mary below, it was likely that YOUR timing (and radar) were tuned perfectly as you decided to read my post. Thanks, as always for being a reader, and yes a catch-up is in order.

  5. Susan Jahns
    August 7, 2013 | 11:09 am

    I love this post, Patti, and your perspective. It’s great advice for facing both the smaller challenges and those larger-than-life ones. Thank you!

    • pattid
      August 7, 2013 | 12:19 pm

      Susan, thank you for your comment! Sometimes it’s the little things (“the sand in our shoes” or “first world problems”) that consume and drain us — or the really big dramas, obstacles and challenges. But either way we figure it out and press on, right?

  6. wayne
    August 10, 2013 | 5:30 pm

    I enjoy the personal way you teach and show us how to communicate and connect and leave a positive and memorable impression. I really enjoyed your book and highly recommend it to those who want their business and personal relationships to be more meaningful. I am so glad I attended your talk in Austin at ROI 2013!

  7. Julie Tereshchuk
    August 20, 2013 | 9:53 am

    Patti, I love the honesty of your post. Someone once told me that the most successful people (define ‘successful’ as you wish) are those that live life in the discomfort zone.

    • pattid
      August 20, 2013 | 11:57 am

      Thank you, Julie! Living in the discomfort zone? That would surely be me. I’m learning to love it.

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