As a leader, you have it all planned out in your head.
But welcome to the real world—things almost never go as planned.
I learned that the hard way again earlier this week when a live training webinar we had planned out for months completely failed us.
The prep my team did was thorough and amazing. We had over 3,800 leaders sign up for the live training—more than we expected. We tested all the systems.
The slide deck was professionally designed and ready to go. We were on the webinar early and everything was green light go. Everything was set for a perfect event.
Then as we hit “Go live” our web-host literally collapsed. The webinar software just melted and kicked everyone off, sending everyone into some Internet black hole. Complete failure.
It was a pro company. We paid our bills. Apparently, none of it mattered. Their customer support? Singularly unhelpful.
What happens when you let 3,800 people down at a live event?
Let me walk you through the lightning-fast leadership pivots my team and I went through.
My hope is they’ll help you the next time your best-laid plans blow up in your face.
1. Feel All the Emotions…for About 3 Minutes
At first when our web-host failed us, I was confused—and I thought, well, we can get this back.
Five minutes later it was clear that we were going to let almost 4,000 people down. There was no way to make the live event work.
Then all I felt was anger with a bit of self-pity thrown in (of course this would happen to me…).
The problem with negative emotions is that they can literally hijack your brain. As a result, you need to feel your emotions, but not live in them.
You know that guy who has a negative story loop that plays through his head every day (it will never work out… of course that was too good to be true… it’s all just useless)? He’s let his emotions hijack his life and leadership.
We knew within minutes that blame, anger and frustration weren’t going to help us at all.
So we moved on.
2. Focus on What You Can Control, Not What You Can’t
Your emotions can get stuck in a crisis, but so can your focus.
It’s so easy to focus on what you can’t control. I can’t control a webinar host, or who shows up, or other peoples’ emotions.
We do this all the time. We blame the economy, other people, the weather.
Think about your prayer life. It’s so easy to pray about other people, circumstances and so much else when really what you should be praying is, “God, I’m such a jerk. Help me understand why and give me the courage to change.”
Focusing on what you can control takes far more courage than what you can’t control.
We couldn’t control the webinar, folks, but we could still record the new training (which was the point of the webinar anyway…to train leaders) in my home studio, which I did that same day.
Effective leadership focuses on what you CAN control, not what you can’t.
3. Brainstorm Around What You CAN Do, Not What You Can’t
Similarly, you need to get creative IMMEDIATELY on what you can do, not on what you can’t.
As my team did a quick debrief, we quickly pivoted to talk about a new approach.
The live webinar was dead, but we did have the emails of everyone who registered for it. And I had a total of 40,000 leaders I could email directly.
Plus as I said earlier, I could record the training in my studio.
Within 15 minutes, we had a new plan…produce the free training the same day, upload it overnight, and email everyone with it the next day.
Plus, we decided to extend the window where the training and course it points to is available, from one week to two weeks.
So that’s exactly what we did.
If you want to make progress, focusing on what you can do always beats focusing on what you can’t do.
Result? We have a free training that not just 4,000 people would see. Now anyone can see it.
Maybe that’s even a better strategy.
This is a living example of one of my all-time favorite quotes (from Henry Ford) who said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”