During a recent mentoring session, a young entrepreneur shared a disappointing outcome he experienced at a recent pitch event.

“I felt very good about my talk,” he said, adding that he was well prepared and confident in his presentation–in which he explained an NFT (non-fungible token), blockchain-related business platform –and was able to answer all questions posed.

In the end, however, his pitch received no award.

Unwilling to accept defeat without learning something, he instead chose to ask the judges for feedback.

They replied, “We just didn’t get it.”

A focus of our sessions had been on streamlining his pitch, and simplifying the heady concepts of blockchain technology so that his value proposition was easy for a layperson to understand. Although we both felt he had come a long way, the pitch event experience told us there was room for improvement.

The takeaway here has little to do with blockchain or cryptocurrency. Let’s be honest, who really understands it, anyway?

The point is that this brilliant young entrepreneur chose to remain open and curious in the face of adversity. By adopting a mindset of growth and change, he leaned into improving his pitch for the better, to making the concept more understandable and accessible to a wider audience. He resisted defensive tendencies or internal narratives meant to explain what may have been lacking on the part of the judges.

Instead, he embraced failure as a bridge to learning and discovery, as a tool for understanding how to improve and make his idea as digestible and exciting for others as it is for him.

Which led us to a rich and productive strategy session on ways to spruce up his talk with storytelling that could draw in the audience before he delved into digital assets and brain-twisting computer programs.

This brilliant young mind could have chosen the path of resistance, of remaining stuck in what didn’t work, of how the pitch process was unsuccessful. Instead, he made the choice of embracing a perceived failure as an opportunity for learning, to enlighten himself by asking the judges where he fell short, what he could have done differently.

I suggested that he jot down the lessons in a learning journal, a written account of daily takeaways, insights, and discoveries that he could use as a tool on his entrepreneurial journey. In much the same way that morning pages can spark creative recovery, recording lessons learned at the close of the day can remind us that the iterative process of trying, failing, and adapting can spark innovation, confidence and growth.

Whether or not you find yourself on an entrepreneurial journey, a learning journal can be a helpful tool in gauging daily progress and growth, in fostering an ability to remain open to new approaches and challenges.

If you have one, we’d love to hear how it helps you. Feel free to email me directly.

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