Moving past failure – what makes a clown?

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was falling. As they came around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross at an intersection.
“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”
“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”
Some years ago I was listening to fascinating a Radio 4 interview on facial disfigurement.
About 15 minutes into the interview, the interviewer asked the question: “How do you cope with other people’s reactions to your disfigurement?”
The interviewee paused for a moment, and asked back at the interviewer: “Do you still see me as disfigured?”.
There was another reflective pause, and the interviewer replied: “You know it is the strangest thing, but I don’t! I mean, clearly you are disfigured but somehow in our conversation I have almost lost sight of the fact.”
The interviewee responded: “That is because in my interactions with you I have allowed you to forget it – I have behaved totally normally and you have responded. The problem comes for the newly disfigured who cannot imagine that other people can see past their scars and therefore respond in a way which reminds people that they are there.”
I thought of some of the people I train in Facilitation, and the way that even small mistakes can ‘take the wind out of their sails’ and damage the rest of the event.
So I thought I would try an experiment. At the start of the second day of a formal training course, I enter the room in full clown regalia – bright suit, red nose, orange wig, and proceeded to undertake a review of the preceding day to flipchart in a totally normal fashion. Within two minutes they were treating me normally and within ten I figured it was safe enough to ask if they still see me as a Clown.
It turns out that they had already filtered out the clear lack of dress sense and moved onto what was important.
The point is, all too often we allow our mistakes to create more damage than they need to.
If you can move past your mistakes quickly, so will your attendees.
Your thoughts and emotions are yours to control, so control them in a way that is most productive to yourself and your meeting – be master of them, don’t let them be master of you.
Act your way through it if you have to, act as though it never happened (after your initial apology of course), and soon you will realise that you don’t have to act any longer – as they say ‘Fake it until you make it’.
You are a valuable person, always! Don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise. You may see things differently from me, but I believe this is your God-given right!
Perceptions are short lived as long as you do not keep feeding them – Don’t allow them to get in the way of your (immediate and future) potential.

Please subscribe to access clinic content

Subscription to the Inspirometer Information Service is free of charge and grants you instant access to a wealth of meeting effectiveness resources and guidance. It also provides you with regular updates direct to your mailbox at a frequency of your choosing.

I am happy to consent to the Inspirometer cookies and Terms and Conditions

Your use of the Inspirometer Information Service is subject to the following terms and conditions, and is subject to our privacy policy which can be reviewed here:

■ We will not use your information for any other purpose than to keep you informed of developments in meeting effectiveness and the Inspirometer system, and we will not share your information with others.
■ You are able to unsubscribe from this service at any time. Each email you receive from us will contain a link where you can reset your preferences for all future emails, or unsubscribe for the service entirely.
■ We will contact you on a minimum of a quarterly basis to ensure that our service is continuing to meet your needs, to give you a general update on key developments in our service, and to provide you with the option to change your contact preferences
■ We will hold your data on file to enable your access to the Information Service until such time as you unsubscribe from the service
■ If we hold your data outside of the information service as a result of you contacting us by email or purchasing our service, we will hold your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy ( We will delete such data, in situations where we are not legally required to retain it, on receipt of a verified request from you
■ All information provided by us is provided in good faith. All information submitted by you is to be provided in good faith.
■ In compliance with the GDPR 2018, you acknowledge that clicking the subscribe button grants us your consent to hold the data you have provided, and to contact you using that data, in the manner described above.
By clicking the button below, I agree with the Terms & Conditions.
Track your progress to ensure the efficacy of this strategy.