Have you ever fallen into a water fountain? I have, and, it was an impactful experience and a life lesson in perseverance.
It was a hot day in Texas and I was focused, prepared, and excited to deliver a 30-minute presentation to a Fortune 500 company regarding how their support can impact the work of my charity, Vogel Alcove, and our mission to serve homeless children and families in Dallas. 200 people were in attendance waiting for me to take the stage to share our approach, impact, and how they can support and partner with our efforts.
I arrived at the corporate headquarters 20 minutes before my scheduled speaking time and parked in the visitor’s spot in front of the main entrance. I mentally focused on the outline of my speech one last time and felt confident in my ability to execute a powerful presentation as I exited my vehicle and began walking to the building lobby. The front entrance of the building was beautiful, featuring an assortment of colorful flowers, trimmed shrubs, and two long rectangular water fountains that bordered both sides of the walkway leading up to the building doors.
While walking up to the doors my mind once again revisited my upcoming speech and I reminded myself to ensure ample time for questions after wrapping up my presentation. It was at this moment that disaster struck!
My right foot stepped off the walkway and into the fountain which caused a chain reaction of a slip, twist, and then a complete back flop into the cold fountain water!
I stood up and realized my wardrobe was completely soaked from head to toe! A group of high school students who were on a field trip to the headquarters saw my hilarious accident and ran over to learn if I was okay. We all looked at each other, and then together busted out laughing at the circumstance. I asked if they would take a picture to capture the moment.
Once I collected my thoughts, I realized I had a choice to make. One option I considered was walking back to my vehicle and placing a call to my corporate contact saying I had an accident and would not be able to give the presentation. The second option I considered was walking inside soaking wet and giving the best presentation I could deliver.
For the past 10 years studying the power of mindset had become a passion in my life. As a result of the knowledge that I have consistently fed myself, I now view facing trials, working through challenges, and overcoming obstacles as a badge of honor. I knew this was an opportunity to push myself through an incredibly embarrassing situation, and, if I could see this presentation to completion that would be a huge personal victory given the circumstances.
Soaking wet, I walked into the lobby and checked-in at the reception desk. The horrified receptionist rushed to find paper towels, and I did my best to unsuccessfully dry off in the few minutes I had to spare. My corporate contact came downstairs and was shocked to find her guest speaker drenched from head to toe, leaving a water trail with every step he took. I assured my contact that I was okay and fully prepared to deliver the speech as scheduled. A moment passed, and we both started laughing hysterically at the crazy situation at hand.
Several minutes later I walked into the room and took the stage in front of 200 very confused and curious faces. Once my introduction was complete, the room remained in dead silence as they waited to hear an explanation for my appearance.
I began my presentation by saying, “With a show of hands, how many of you have ever walked past the water fountain in front of this building and thought to yourself, one day I’d like to jump in there?”
Every single hand raised high in the air, with many people in the audience beginning to crack smiles as they started to suspect what happened to me.
I continued, “Well, I decided today was the day, so I jumped in for a swim right before this presentation.”
The room erupted in laughter. I then recapped the story of my embarrassing fall with full transparency. I stated that I could have turned around and left the building to head home, but the information I was there to share was much more important than my prideful ego. I spoke for the next 30 minutes about our mission at Vogel Alcove, and asked that the company consider supporting our cause through a corporate collaboration which would be determined by a vote of the people in attendance the following week.
I completed the speech and felt an immense sense of pride. I did it. My years of intentional work towards strengthening my mindset, attitude, confidence, and belief in extreme ownership paid off through overcoming an embarrassing situation by persevering to deliver my presentation.
This reinforced my belief in the teaching that when you make a mistake or find yourself in an embarrassing circumstance, don’t try to hide or cover it up. Accept it. Utilize extreme personal ownership. Accept no excuses. Use the moment as a life lesson and an opportunity for personal growth. When you fall, get up, and keep moving forward.
The company made the decision to support Vogel Alcove.