The Month of April Started with a Failure

I cancelled an event that was supposed to happen yesterday on April 1st, and I want to tell you why.

A month ago, my team and I planned a Step ONE: Activate Your Confidence! seminar – one of the programs in Speak Up! Project. It was not the first time. The seminar was held many, many times before all over the Peninsula Malaysia. In fact, we already visited all the states in Peninsula Malaysia – from north to south, from east to west.

So why didn’t it happen this time?

My diagnosis: We failed in our outreach to people. We couldn’t get enough participation to pay for the cost of the program. Hence, we had to cancel it and it was the first time we had to do so. It broke my heart.

In the past, we had events where we barely broke even. We even had events where we lose money. But we didn’t cancel it. We powered through. This time, we intend to do the same but we didn’t have the financial strength to cover the loses.

So, cancellation was the option we opted for.

There are 2 lessons we took away from the experience:

1. Outreach to people is a make-it or break-it element of a program. 

We have little doubts that the program wasn’t something that the community needed. We did our homework and the demand was there. The Speak Up! Project aims to empower the local youth with more confidence to speak up their minds, especially in English – a language proven to be challenging for a lot the students.

Even our government calls for more improvements in the English language among the students. So, the need is there and we believe we can contribute massively towards the goal of improving English, through improving self-confidence.

But, just like a restaurant, it’s not enough that you have great food. People need to know that you exist. So, moving forward, we will focus more on making ourselves known to the general public, especially to the youth whom we are serving.

2. Helping people is a service, but it is not free.

In an ideal world, we would love to help people for free. We would love to organize events where people don’t have to pay a cent and where there are not strings attached. We want to help people for the sake of helping people.

Just to see this world becoming a better place to live in.

But, we don’t live in an ideal world. In this world, everything has a cost and you have to factor it in when you want to help people. This is not about getting rich by taking advantage of people – that is unequivocally wrong and reprehensible.

This is about sustaining a social enterprise that aims to help people. By sustaining, that means money. You can’t help people if you can’t help yourself.

I travel a lot by plane. Each time before a flight, the crew will demonstrate the safety procedures. Those who are frequent flyers will have these procedures etched in their brains. But, the crew reminds you of them every single time.

If you are a flyer, you are probably visualizing it in your head by now, right? In the demonstration, when it comes to the oxygen mask, all flights will have the same procedure: put on the mask on yourself first, before putting it on someone under your care.

Think about that for a minute. Isn’t it better to put the mask on someone else? Are we being selfish if we put it on ourselves first?

If you put it on yourself first, you are not selfish. It is only selfish if you don’t intend on helping others in the first place. If you put it on yourself first, you are being reasonable and realistic. You know well that your ability to help others is dependent upon your own safety and stability.

You can’t help others if you yourself are gasping for air.

So, at this moment, we are gasping for air a little bit. But, the good news is that we haven’t suffocated. We can still recover and stand back up again. Move on to the next thing on the list, through the lessons we learned from this failure.

I don’t mind telling the world we have failed, because this is our stepping stone to success. Admitting failure is better than thinking that everything is okay.

Denial is the first step to running away from problems. Acceptance is the first step to conquering the problems.

Do you want to master your confidence?

Speak Up! Project focuses on creating a strong foundation of inner confidence. We apply the confidence in practicing essential soft skills: English speaking, public speaking, and debating.

Click here to get updates about our next confidence-upgrading programs.