Failure, fallibility and burn out

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chödrön

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I arrived home last Friday evening, completely burned out by October.

A month which included two 6-day weeks (although my sympathy plea for that was quickly rejected yesterday by Paul, our local butcher who, as he wrapped my rashers, respectfully pointed out that he works 6 days every week).

What I didn’t have the energy to say to Paul was that I bet his weekdays didn’t begin at 05:00 and sometimes end at 22:00, nor did he have to travel the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland to deliver (blah, blah – shame for me).

I have been rebuilding my coaching client base since August (largely because so many of my clients have done well enough to sell their practices – Gary Chapman, the acquisitions Director at Portman Healthcare, loves me so much that he has offered to take me out for a Christmas lunch again this year – an ironic steak if ever there was one).

Perhaps the objective of every good business coach is to be fired, because the client is doing so well?

I realised during the summer that my coaching fee income was heading perilously downwards as a number of existing clients fired me (for all the right reasons) and that something had to be done.

So – into marketing and prospecting mode (what Michael Gerber describes as lead generation and lead conversion) and I became a salesman again – using skills I learned during the 1980’s and have never forgotten – not smarmy sales talk but just getting my head in gear, getting off my butt and getting out there.

Combining the prospecting, the delivery to existing clients and the promotion of our other products and services at 7connections has left me totally knackered (not helped by the infamous knee injury – MRI scan due 26th November).

Sobertober was, in hindsight, priceless – goodness knows what state I would have been in without abstinence.

Along the way I’ve been dealing with some heavyweight personal issues – tough decisions have been made, short-term pain absorbed and long-term benefit initiated.

In leadership, we all have to accept failure and fallibility, physically, emotionally and spiritually, whilst showing up every day as an inspiration to our colleagues at work, our extended family, our clients, our audience.

During August I felt a failure because my coaching practice was slowly withering on the vine.

During September I felt a failure because of the elephant that has been sat in the room since the demise of my last business in 2013.

During October I have felt fallible because the accumulation of fatigue made me tired and ill.

My inability to run for three months has magnified each of these feelings in the absence of the meditation of the miles.


I’m almost back to a full practice inside 3 months – I expect to have filled my 2016 coaching client base before Christmas.

The elephant is dead after I administered a lethal injection and the space left by its removal is allowing tranquility and new opportunity into my life.

My schedule from now until Christmas is progressively less hectic.

There is a long journey ahead to my former physical fitness – but the mantra of the marathon runner is “pace not race”.

I know that everyone who reads this will feel a failure about something, will feel fallible and will experience burn out.

The challenge is to lean into the pain (as Pema Chödrön says in her wonderful little book), experience the feeling and then work through to the light.

This entry was posted in Happiness, Health, running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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