This month, our focus is resilience – our ability to recover quickly from failure, set-backs, and difficulties.  2020 has definitely put this skill to the test.  This week’s Q&A responds to a leader who is struggling with feelings of shame and embarrassment about an event she views as a “failure.”

Dear. Drs. McDonald and Graham,

I recently volunteered to host a large virtual session that took the place of an annual meeting we typically have in person.  I am not an expert at videoconferencing but wanted the meeting to happen, so I stepped up to host.  To say that the session did not go well would be an understatement.  There were a number of glitches with the technology: people couldn’t hear me, several people were accidentally dropped from the conference, and I was trying to figure out how to remedy the situation while juggling a barrage of texts, emails, and phone calls from frustrated participants. In short, I got overwhelmed and agitated, and it was obvious to everyone.  I’m embarrassed by my performance and regret volunteering to host. I’m also concerned this failed annual meeting is going to negatively impact my trajectory with the company.  

Embarrassed Leader

Dear Embarrassed Leader,

When trying something new, it is typical to experience challenges.  When we moved our programming to a virtual platform this summer, a virtual learning expert advised us to expect 2 to 3 technological issues in every session!  So instead of being embarrassed, give yourself the kindness and grace you deserve. This was the first time this meeting was hosted virtually, and you bravely volunteered to take the lead.  The meeting, even with its imperfections, would not have happened without you.  

In addition to practicing self-compassion, we recommend that you view the tech-challenged virtual session as a chance to learn.  Some possible ways to shift from a place of embarrassment to a place of growth:

Imagine how you wish you had responded to the situation. This exercise will help you generate ideas to call upon the next time you feel your frustration rising.  (For example, perhaps you wish you had interrupted your stress response during the virtual session by practicing simple breathing exercises, helping to control your emotional reaction while you figured out what to do next.)
Take a course on virtual meeting facilitation. While you likely have no desire to become an expert in this area, it is important to be intentional about learning from every challenge that frustrates us or throws us off our game.
Volunteer to facilitate another (much smaller and less critical) virtual session. Yes, we know this suggestion sounds preposterous when all you want to do is avoid another disappointing virtual experience!  However, it’s important to “get back on the horse” — to prove to yourself, your boss, and your co-workers that you can master new skills and grow from setbacks.

And finally, with regard to being concerned about how your performance might impact your trajectory with the company, we encourage you to discuss the webinar with your boss and ask for her feedback on the session.  It is possible that your evaluation of your performance is not the same as hers.  We are often our own worst critics, and the stories we tell ourselves are usually much more negative than others’ perceptions.  Once you get your boss’ feedback, you can actively work to address the opportunities identified.  (We think she’ll be impressed by your commitment to learning and growth!)

Learning to be resilient and bounce back after failure is a key theme in Brené Brown’s courage-building program Dare to Lead™.  We are proud to be Certified Dare to Lead™ facilitators, selected and trained by Brené Brown in this curriculum. We have TWO spaces remaining in our 2-day workshop scheduled for February 24 and 25, 2021. If you would like to learn more about Dare to Lead™ or register for the workshop, visit  If you would like to be added to our distribution list to be notified of future Dare to Lead™ workshops, click here

Do you have a question for us or need advice?  We invite you to take advantage of a new opportunity to “Ask Us Anything.” We are testing the segment in our private Facebook group every Wednesday.  Post your question in the group (or send us an email if you want to remain anonymous to, and one or both of us will respond.  Other group members join the conversation as well, sharing their insight and experience. Not a member of our Facebook group?  Click here to join.

Register now for our December 2023 Dare to Lead™ workshop!Learn more