To achieve my personal and professional goals for 2017- 2018 I had to stop writing for the ABAC Blog “Fitzer’s Corner.” When I was writing more frequently, the experience was enjoyable, and I found that I learned a great deal researching and writing those posts. Nevertheless, in the last twelve months my focus had to be on my family, my business, and starting the process of getting rid of my Scarlet A(BD)* seventeen years after I stepped into my first class as a doctoral student and fourteen years after I finished my last doctoral course requirement.
So, I started do things that I used to do, like submit presentation proposals and present at conferences.
About three months ago, I attended the Women in Behavior Analysis Conference (WIBA) in Nashville, an unbelievable little conference making a huge difference. I presented a workshop on defining success and ethical business ownership with the intent to take the attendees on a journey from failure to where I am now. I attempted to explain how using ethics I was able to create a business that allows me to achieve my personal and professional goals. I stood in front of a packed room including some of the invited speakers at the conference and spoke. My presentation was a hit… or an absolute waste of time depending on who submitted feedback. Literally. Approximately 50% of the feedback was very positive and the rest…well not at all.
The whole experience made me miss writing.
When I edit my writing thoughtfully and carefully and ask for other’s insight and opinions before publishing I find I reduce the risk of harsh criticism simply because I have already addressed concerns about organization, extraneous content, and potential disagreement regarding what I have written. That is not to say I have not left room for feedback, in fact, I welcome it, but harsh criticism tends to be less likely (at least in my experience) because there is no reason for it.
Writing also allows me to be vulnerable without anyone looking at when me when I am being so.
Looking back, I admit that I could have weaved the ethical piece into my presentation more cohesively, but I was more focused on what I really wanted to convey, that I failed before I succeeded. I laid that out openly, passionately, and did not hold back the negative side of trying to open a business. It was in laying that foundation that I hoped to show how setting limits and boundaries, collecting data, sticking to my ethical code, and using behavior skills training has allowed me to take the business from failure to success and to show how it is possible to achieve both professional and personal goals. Apparently, it wasn’t just that I could have better emphasized the ethics, some of the audience thought I was too negative at points. One person said there was no credible content.
Speaking about failure publicly is difficult, writing about it is not.
I have written publicly about my initial failure. Many times, in fact. Writing about it was cathartic, speaking about it, less so. For days after I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had embarrassed myself. Putting myself out there was hard and seeing the audience members who looked bored, who didn’t laugh with the others when I made a joke, and who simply looked like they couldn’t wait to run out of the room was incredibly tough.
When you write you don’t see the frowns, but you don’t hear the cheers either
Unless you share this piece or write to me and tell me what you think, I won’t know if this post was well received or not. There is safety behind this keyboard. But it is lonely behind here too. Despite having a hard time accepting that some people didn’t appear to like my presentation I didn’t have too much time to think about it during the conference because I was distracted by all the people who DID. Turns out that admitting failure inspires some as much as it may repel others.
I love to speak and write
There is no harm in trying something new and pushing yourself to do something different in the hopes that it will be a success even if it turns out it isn’t. I am so happy that my year hiatus from writing is over, but I am glad I had the experience I did. I am eager to try again, I am eager to take the feedback and make some changes, I am eager to grow, and I am eager to share what so many people (50% in fact!) loved about my presentation at WIBA and build on it.
Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. C. S. Lewis
I have decided to try it again, failing towards a (hopeful) success. I sat down and looked at the harsher points made by those who did not like my webinar and I am building off them. I am putting my embarrassment aside and trying again. I am presenting on this topic in a few months and if the evaluations provide additional areas I can improve upon I will. Same goes for this post. As always, please let me know what you think of Fitzer’s Corner, my posts, or send any questions or comments to me directly to Adrienne@abacnj.com
*ABD stands for “all but dissertation,” a common term for those that have completed all doctoral requirements but the dissertation.