The Quest #136: 🤦🏼‍♀️How To Flip Facilitation Failures Into Learning

Hello friends,

Greetings from Barcelona.☀️

🙌Many thanks for reading The Quest, your weekly round-up of tips and insights to help you design and lead exceptional online sessions that your group members will love.❤️

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How do you flip facilitation failures into learning? Let’s jump right in.

As soon as I pressed “end meeting” I felt my heart sink.

I had prepared for days. I thought I had nailed the flow. I was imagining the Zoom room buzzing. But then the meeting started and I felt like I was way off my game. And I struggled through the rest of the session.

I used to beat myself up.

In the past when I made mistakes, I would replay the session over and over again in my mind. With every replay, it would get worse. And I would carry the sense of failure around with me for days. Sometimes weeks. Even months.

I learned there are no guarantees.

The more I spoke with other facilitators I realized that even the most seasoned facilitators make mistakes. As my facilitation mentor Nadia Chaney put it, “When you lead groups there are no guarantees.”

Failure is part of learning.

Learning to lead groups requires you to put yourself out there. Sometimes you’ll fail. It’s part of the learning process. And it’s your opportunity to transform your practice.

How can you flip failure into learning? That’s our Quest for this week🔎

👉Top 5 Facilitation Fails @ Facilitator Forum Podcast

👉3 Mistakes We Make When We Gather @ Priya Parker


👉 Session Lab’s 2024 State of Facilitation Survey is still live

👉 Get a free pass to Zoomtopia on October 3-4

Let’s jump right in.

🎙️Facilitator Forum: Top 5 Facilitation Fails

podcast by Julia Winston with special guest Jenny Sauer-Klein – two seasoned facilitators who I admire.

Julia and Jenny both talk candidly and openly about the things they’ve learned about facilitation through moments of failure.

They share their “Top 5 Facilitation Fails” and how to manage them. Things like unclear openings and closings, taking things too personally, and more.

Here are my three key takeaways:

👉The only way to get better at facilitation is by doing it.

When you lead groups you have to practice live in front of groups in real-time. This means making mistakes with your audience and recovering gracefully. That’s where the real learning happens.

👉The goal is not to get it “right”.

In facilitation, the goal is not to be perfect all the time. Instead, think of facilitation as an art that requires constant learning and refinement.

👉You need to fail in order to master a craft.

As a facilitator, you are trying to master your craft. So failure is just a bunch of lessons that you can learn that will get you closer to mastery.

Also, check out the blog post summary.

Source: Facilitator Forum Podcast

🤔3 Mistakes We Make When We Gather by Priya Parker

blog post by Art of Gathering author and seasoned facilitator Priya Parker (hands up AoG fans!). In it, she breaks down the three most common mistakes we make when we gather (herself included).

I love her examples and her tips on what to do instead.

Here’s the TL;DR of the 3 gathering mistakes👇

1/ Pleasing over purpose.

2/ Assuming that more is always the merrier. (Guilty! 😅)

3/ Leaving the guests to fend for themselves.

“Gathering artfully is a practice. And getting better means being relentlessly curious about when and why things go right – but even more so, when and why they don’t.”


Priya Parker. Author & Facilitator, The Art of Gathering

💪4 Strategies for Flipping Failure into Learning

It can be easy to beat yourself up when you make mistakes in your session. The problem is that you’ll miss an opportunity to propel your facilitation practice forward.

Here are 4 strategies to flip failure into learning.

1/ 😌Be humble.

As a group leader, it can be easy to think that you need to have all of the answers. When in fact owning your own fallibility creates safety for others to speak up.

2/ 🤔Be curious.

It can be tempting to shut down when you feel like you have failed. Instead, be curious about what went wrong and what you can do better.

3/ 💡Learn.

Making mistakes may signal that you’ve hit the edges of your facilitation practice. Take the opportunity to sharpen your knowledge and skills.

4/ 🔎Ask for Feedback.

You may know you’ve failed. But you may not know how to flip that into learning. Ask for feedback and talk to others who can help you see your blind spots.

⌚Time Worthy

👉Join Zoomtopia with a free Virtual Pass.

Did you know you can go to Zoom’s annual conference online for free? Click on this link and then register via virtual passes. Zoomtopia takes place on Oct 3&4.

👉 Contribute to Session Lab’s State of Facilitation 2024 Survey.

Take part in the most comprehensive facilitation survey of facilitators and facilitation to date. Let’s get the word out about facilitation!

✍️Quote of the Week

“Failure is the information you need to get where you are going”.


Rick Ruben, Producer and Author of The Creative Act

via Facilitator Forum podcast

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Creatively yours,

Whenever you are ready there are 2 more ways I can help you:

👉Custom coaching & team training. Book a free 15-minute zero-commitment call with me to see how I can support you and your team.

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