Recently, I have been super excited to see many women sharing their story and joining us as part of Soundgirls.org. Many of the recent posts on our Facebook page have been new members of our organization in school, about to graduate, or just starting their first position in this amazing field. It reminds me of conversations about what’s next as student staff members and student event organizers around me begin their last steps toward graduation and their next steps toward their desired careers.
Working within an educational system, we frequently discuss with graduating students what they have learned, if they feel prepared, and how to find support once out in their field. Outside of the educational system, I hope everyone can learn something through all of their life experiences. I would like to share some things that I have learned over time through failure in hopes you can learn from them.
How to Fail Smart.
There are many things outside of our control that can lead to failure. Those we are rarely able to change, but there are things as an individual we can do to prevent our failures. The first being, always blaming others. It’s a fact, mistakes will be made, things will go wrong, and sometimes it is our fault. Something was missed, forgotten about, or we just simply misunderstood something. When this happens, and you know that you could have prevented it or you messed it up – take ownership of it. Own the mistake, apologize for it, and work toward fixing it. It can be as simple as, “I’m sorry, I messed up on this – I am going to fix it by…..”
I had a situation just like this happen the other day. I was making a room reservation for a client when I was pulled away for something else, and by the time I got back to my desk, I completely forgot about it. Then the next day I was reminded that I needed to finish the reservation. When I did so, I found that the hotel was sold out. I had messed up for not completing the reservation when I should have – but I owned it. I went to my team, let them know what had happened and asked for help. I asked if there was any way we could fix the problem. We worked together, and we were able to solve the issue quickly.
A second way to avoid failure is to not complain about everything all the time. Yes, there can be negative times, but if all that comes from you as an employee, team member, and leader is negative, you have failed. To get out of this rut, look to what went well and what didn’t and fix it. Take steps to turn the negative into positive outcomes. I grew up with an ideology of – if you don’t like it, then you fix it. Now that can sound a bit intense, but when you break it down this way take ownership, change what you don’t like and if you can’t change it make decisions to make it better. As individuals within the sound world we will end up working with negative people, and if we continuously act the same as those negative people as well we will all live miserable lives – so let’s not do that, because life is too short to be negative all the time.
Finally, it will always be important, no matter if you are a rookie or a veteran to learn from your mistakes. As I mentioned above, we have all made mistakes. Taking ownership of those mistakes is important; learning from them is even more important. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Same goes with mistakes. If you are making the same mistakes over and over again, you are failing. Learn from those mistakes, and adjust your game plan from show to show. In the long run, this will make you a productive and valuable employee and leader, plus you may not have to spend so much time troubleshooting.
At the end of the day, no one is perfect when it comes to failing, but owning and learning from mistakes will help you succeed in your career path and remaining active will help you move through failure on step at a time by failing smart.
Heather Holm: Fueled by an interest in live sound at a young age, Heather volunteered to work productions through high school. As a student in college she started working in the production department where she learned how to setup and run audio equipment properly. Heather has been working for the University of Wisconsin La Crosse for five years as the Event Support Coordinator. Her job requires her to be a jack-of-all-trades (Audio technician, venue manager, teacher, safety manager, supervisor, lighting designer and so much more). She loves live sound the most – and says “there is nothing like firing up the PA for the first time”.