it’s okay to fail.

Nicole is an educator at one of our stores in Toronto and a very cool chick (we love her blog - check it out!) Here is her story about the pursuit of her biggest, juiciest BHAG: working for Ellen DeGeneres.

We’re always taught that if we want to achieve our goals we have to put them out there. So what happens when you publicize your Biggest, Hairiest, most Audacious goal, in a Big Hairy Audacious way and fail?

At 14 my BHAG was born. I wanted to work for Ellen Degeneres. I still do. This is a dream that, up until recently, I've kept as just that, a dream, where it's safe from the reality of disappointment and failure. Many decisions in my life (temporarily moving to LA, going to film school, copying Ellen’s hairstyle) were actually based on that goal. Well, maybe not the hair thing.

In November of 2012, I was feeling down about my future and unsure of my career path, and decided it was time to make my biggest dream come true. Does that sound cheesy? Maybe, but that’s how goals work. I came up with a great idea for a video get Ellen’s attention. I used my mad producing skills to contact former Ellen guests, and with them making cameos in my video, I would (attempt to) write Ellen a song, (attempt to) create a viral video, and (attempt to) learn to dance, just like they did. I was pretty proud of it.

On December 18th 2012 I posted it. In the first hours, it got 1000 views - not "viral" but for a painfully earnest, nine-minute video about me, I was flabbergasted! People were messaging me, texting me, and I had over 60 Facebook friends posting it on their walls, sharing it with The Ellen Show on Facebook and Twitter! I couldn't believe the sense of community I felt within my little social media world.

At lululemon, one of the ways we learn to make our goals come to life is by visualizing them coming true. I was able to convince myself that I hadn’t heard anything back because her show took a holiday hiatus over Christmas. Friends would assure me I’d be hearing from them soon. I’d have moments where I’d let the possibility of nothing happening slip in, but would quickly remind myself that something had to happen.

Every time I felt like moving on, another Ellen fan or dreamer would reach out to me saying how much my video meant to them, and it would push me to keep trying. I just wasn’t ready to give up, which was a very bittersweet feeling. Half of me was already feeling emotionally exhausted, like a failure, while the other half was pushing me to keep reaching out and hoping the right person would see it at the right time.

My video now has over 5500 views, but as nice as that is, I’m not anywhere closer to my goal. I realized I had to step off my cloud, at least for now. There were a few days, even weeks that it really hurt, and I stopped watching Ellen...because when I did, I’d see other guests she found on YouTube and I felt somehow spurned.  I felt embarrassed when every friend I'd run into would bring it up, "have you heard from Ellen? You're SO going to!" Even though it was my BHAG, I’d felt like I had disappointed everyone else. Everyone had been so supportive and so confident in me, which left me feeling like I had let everyone down.

I was so confident that something was going to happen, I genuinely wasn't prepared for it not to.

Not every goal is publicized the way mine was. Setting a goal to read a certain number of books, or saving enough money for a big vacation are things that are done, for the most part, in solitude. A little positive self-talk and it’s easy to brush those off if you don’t succeed, but when your 1500 Facebook friends know about you dream, it’s a different story. Especially when the video is so you - it wasn’t my cooking that failed, or my writing, it was just me being me that failed.

but wait! silver linings are pretty cool, too.

Upon reflecting on my Ellen journey,  I realized that it was actually awesome. I’d be pretty self-centered if I didn’t realize the support I got from friends and acquaintances. And while it’s easy to be disappointed that not enough people helped, whatever that means, or be embarrassed by the large audience of my failure, I also realized that the greater the community that comes together, the greater the reward will be when I do succeed. I’m not talking about attention, or even fame. I mean that success grows when it’s shared. And I can’t wait to share it.

Things are better now. I’ve spent time thinking alone, watching TED talks (thank you Regina Dugan and Brené Brown) and talking with the people who know me best. I got all my crying out, and I’m back to (mostly) finding joy again watching Ellen. People still tell me they think of me while they watch her show, which I've got to admit is pretty cool. I’ve learned that I’d rather my identity be so wrapped up in my BHAG that it’s the first thing people think of when they think of me, than to never have tried. Plus, I’ll still gladly accept an offer from the folks down at The Ellen Show. Afterall, her show just got renewed for four more years. I’ve totally got this!

Sometimes the road to goalsetting gold is not as simple as A to B. What goals have you sought after for years? Have you achieved them? And what have you learned along the way?

read more related posts:


Thank you so much for sharing this! It is exactly what I need to remind myself that the road to our dreams is not always a fast one! Good luck reaching your goal, and I look forward to seeing you on and working for Ellen one day soon!

Comment by Jordan Angel — April 26, 2013 @ 11:43 am

Thanks for sharing Nicole! You are such an inspiration.

Comment by Marie Coyles — April 27, 2013 @ 5:54 am

Wow how timely is this! I really needed a post like this, because yesterday I failed to complete the marathon that I had trained almost a year for. I sustained an injury at mile 15, and instead of pushing and further injuring myself I bowed out. Like you, Nicole, a good amount of people knew that I was doing this race, and now I’m injured AND embarrassed!

Also, they don’t give you a medal if you get hurt–not even a 1/2 marathon medal. :(

Comment by QueenieB — April 28, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

I would argue that it is essential to fail, not just ok. Its natures way of seeing how much you want to succeed. All great achievers fail more than they succeed, they just keep on trying regardless. You say that you are no nearer your goal, but how do you know this. Maybe your name is already on Ellen’s To Do list?

Comment by jenny Gregory — April 30, 2013 @ 11:36 am

Great post! I’m feeling kinda down these days about how I’m so far from the goals that I have set for myself. I realize that its counterproductive to keep thinking about how far I am from reaching my goal, or how my results fall short of what I set out to achieve. When I focus on what I have learnt and the skills I have obtained despite not reaching my goals, I become more optimistic that my next try would be much better, and bring me closer to my dreams

Comment by Steven — May 4, 2013 @ 8:18 am

Insightful post, Nicole. One thing I’ve learned is that failure is a powerful teacher. It helps us plan for the future, and put aside things that don’t work. While it’s painful to face, learning from it is one of the best things we can do. My suggestion: Set an Impossible Goal. Something even bigger than being on Ellen. How about having your own show, with your own insights and your own focus. As a reader, I’d be a lot more excited to see your show with your personality and passion, than to see you on Ellen.

Comment by John Richardson — May 4, 2013 @ 8:57 am

Failure is a great teacher! Lessons learned through failure are always remembered. Failing is not the end of the world, sometimes, it can be a start to something bigger and better. ;)

Comment by ces — May 5, 2013 @ 3:32 pm


Don’t count yourself as a failure at all – you’ve made yourself a star to many people. And, it ain’t over yet! You still might get with Ellen, or you might catch the attention of another show altogether. Sometimes our goals change a little as we grow and explore. Maybe your goal will one day be, “A producer of my own show.” Hey, it could happen – your video was great.

I am totally stealing your quote, by the way, both for my personal and professional life. “I’ve learned that I’d rather my identity be so wrapped up in my BHAG that it’s the first thing people think of when they think of me, than to never have tried.” This will get me through Pilates teacher training. Thank you!

Comment by Amy — May 6, 2013 @ 7:38 am

You just inspired me to dare post my BHAG on my social networks. Well, at least to think seriously about doing it!

Any thoughts/advise about how to build up the courage to “just do it”?! This darn “fear of failure” thing sure does eat into one’s confidence, doesn’t it :)

However, I do NOT think you “failed” at all in the venture – if the goal was to get clarity on your future path… it’s shown how inspirational YOU are to many readers like me! Thank you, Nicole :)

Comment by Mani — May 10, 2013 @ 12:12 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment