I invited a lot of people to my birthday party. About a week before the event, I received a flurry of messages: “I can’t make it after all”, “There’s a clash”. A quiet, scared voice started tugging at me: “But… what if no-one turns up??”
If you’ve ever thrown a party, organized a work do or put on an event, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to identify with that feeling of growing panic. No matter how organized you are, how far in advance you make preparations or how brilliant the event will be, ultimately who turns up is out of your control. Even if your event is fully booked, things happen: People get sick, snow falls, cars break down, other priorities show up.
Of course it’s inconvenient. It might involve a financial loss. But why does it hurt SO much?
Here’s a little illustration…
At age 13, I was stood up. I’d been asked on a date and made my way to the cinema, full of nerves and excitement. I waited… and I waited. Time passed. In these days before mobile phones, all I could do was wait outside the cinema, watching everyone else going in, with the growing realisation that my date wasn’t turning up. I cried the whole way home, burning up with the shame and embarrassment of rejection.
Teen self-esteem can be tender and vulnerable, often built on others’ approval. People show up = we’re approved of, we’re okay. People don’t show up = we’re not. Although as adults, we may have dismantled this equation and grown in confidence, putting on an event can trigger that teenage pain.
So what do we do? Should we avoid putting on events?
Here are three tips:
1) Set yourself up for success
There are certain practices which stack the odds in favour of your event being a success. I put the word out about my birthday party a long time in advance and then didn’t really mention it until the week before. In my experience, there’s an optimal time frame between too lengthy notice and too short notice. Experiment and find what works for the people you want to invite: How far in advance do they put events in their diaries?
You’ll see below that I’m promoting a workshop and I’m using a three-tier pricing structure which encourages early registration. I know that people want to come to these workshops so my aim is to make it as easy as possible for them to commit – and ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ makes for a stronger commitment. For me, if I’ve paid for something I’ll go, whereas with a pay-on-the-door event I may opt out at the last minute – even though it would be more beneficial to attend the event. Can you identify with that for yourself? What pricing or promotion strategy could you adopt that would support your invitees in committing to themselves?
2) Know that you might fail
Despite your best efforts, the people you want to attend might simply not turn up. Be present to your emotions around this – perhaps you’ll feel grief, anger or despair. Know that these feelings probably aren’t just about how this particular event is turning out; they have unearthed some old wounds that are now available to you for healing.
3) Take a new perspective on ‘failure’
How do you know what is a failure and what is a blessing in disguise? Choose to adopt a perspective of trust where you believe that whoever shows up is who is meant to show up and that you cannot know the bigger picture. It turned out that 50 beautiful people showed up to my party which felt just right; we enjoyed a wonderful evening of dancing, laughter, good food and great company. When has an event not gone to plan – and that turned out to be even better than you intended?
The World Needs Your Passion, So…
1) What event would you like to put on? Would others benefit? Use these three tips and commit to making it happen.
2) Leave a comment on this blog post and let us know: What events have you put off, for fear of no-one showing up? How do/could you set your events up for success? How do you manage fears of failure as they arise? What unforeseen pleasant surprises can you inspire us with?
Are You Fearful No-One Will Turn Up?
Do you have an idea for a great event… but haven’t told anyone else about it?
Have you designed a fabulous workshop… but haven’t booked a venue or date yet?
If fear of failure is blocking you, book a Clarity Session > >
“If people had told me that four coaching sessions would have such a major impact on my life, I wouldn’t have believed them. I’ve now lost count of the number of people who stop me to tell me how well I look and that my old sparkle has returned. More importantly, I’ve rediscovered who I am and truly amazing things are beginning to happen.”
– Liz Gatheral, Architect & Project Manager, Preston