the courage to get up there and be
different. The courage to try new
things. The courage to be cutting
edge. The courage to be raw and
vulnerable. The courage to put
yourself out there over and over.
The courage to run with an idea,
having no guarantee that it will
I have tried jokes that bombed.
I’ve had stories that offended
people. I’ve hosted events where
nobody showed up. I’ve lost sight of
reality when it comes to how big my
hair should be. I have boxes of products that I convinced my husband
I would sell, but I’ve never opened.
I’ve had clients who didn’t like me
and audiences that asked me not to
I’m pretty confident that for
every one good idea I had, there
were 50 bad ones.
But some were golden. I just
didn’t know it until I got on the
other side of it.
And I wouldn’t have known had
I not tried every one.
That’s the thing about innovation. The very concept is built on creating something
that never existed before. By its very nature, there is no
guarantee it will work. And even if you try and it doesn’t
work, that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. You just might
have gone about it the wrong way.
So, what’s my point?
Don’t be ashamed of your bad ideas. Celebrate that
you tried. In a sea of black and white zebras, you had the
courage to be pink.
Just like it takes kissing a lot of frogs before you find
your prince, it takes a lot of bad ideas to land on a good
one. At least for most of us.
Keep at it. Your next big thing is just around the corner.
Now, I’ve got to go. I just signed up for a pole-dancing class. ■
Being the class clown in college, I started most of my best stories with the words, “Wouldn’t it be funny if ....” These words were usually a good indicator of a dumb idea that we would laugh about for years.
While this made for great college stories, in business the sting is much
greater. Now, when I have a dumb idea, there’s no team of drunk people
who will applaud my bravery and forget my mistake tomorrow. Now there
is a community of peers—people watching and waiting to see if I succeed,
and some even giddy when I fail.
I know I shouldn’t care about those people watching me on
But I do care.
Not enough to stop trying, though.
See, here’s the thing. This business of being a motivational speaker
(and, I imagine, others’ businesses too) is built on risk. Courage is
your No. 1 skill set. Not just the courage to get up on the stage, but
KELLY SWANSON is an
award-winning storyteller, a
motivational speaker, and the
author of The Story Formula and
Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale She
teaches people in business how to
harness the power of story to connect and engage.
If at first you don’t succeed,
try, try again
BY KELLY SWANSON