Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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thing without learning as much as I can from what I've already been through," Ever says. "Reframe your concept of 'failure' and think of all the feedback, setbacks, and criticism you get as information that can help you do better and be better next time. Recognize what it feels like to be and act defensively, and fi ght that instinct with all your might: You will let more growth and opportunity in by being a window rather than a door." Failing Yourself Failure was also a solo experience for Stacey Lynden, who fi nished last in her fi rst effort at the Canadian Barista Championship. "Doubt felt pretty crappy, but what felt worse was knowing I had no one to blame but myself for not being prepared, and the only person who had let me down was me." "I got onstage in front of a packed audience, in the middle of the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show, looked out into the crowd, and knew full well I wasn't prepared," Stacey remembers. "I finished, I came in last place that year. I was proud that I finished, and I felt no failure in losing, but I felt my failure in not preparing myself to be there." Aside from recognizing a shortcoming in preparation, how did Stac- ey push forward to become an award-winning coffee professional? "At fi rst I felt pretty drained, not only that I had let myself down, but also that I had let the people who had invested in me down," she says. "But the only way I could do my best to make up for the failure was to start learning everything possible about everything coffee. "Use failure as a lesson, something to grow from, as fuel to be better next time. This doesn't mean winning, it just means going in as prepared as you can be, and performing a task, job, or perfor- mance you're proud of, and are confident in. If you do this and lose, there's no failure in that, just room for growth and to learn from our mistakes." Learning by Doing Like Stacey, Royal Coffee's Candice Madison experienced a "very public, very humiliating and spectacular failure" in competition: hers at the U.K. Barista Championship. Her recollection is no doubt familiar to many who have entered coffee contests. "My misstep was not taking the time to understand the industry and its culture," she says. "I was new, and like most people who enter the sophomoric stage of learning, was full of hubris and arrogance. I was known for making great coffee, and fi gured I'd just do the job I did every day, but in a weirder environment. I should have known better!" Candice parlayed her failure into motivation to improve, and shifted gears to becoming a competition judge. "Having been trained as a teacher, I was able to understand that some of the feedback I had received was great, and some was woefully insuf- ficient," she says. "The most rewarding part of that process was being able to help competitors understand what went right and what went wrong, being able to give them concrete information to take into the next season. My failure meant their success. That meant the world to me." Refl ecting on her experience, Candice cautions that "failure is not a dirty word; my only advice is to be gentle with yourself, so that you can take that grace and generosity forward into your next project." She continues, "The most successful way that I come back from failure is to allow the emotion to lessen, the sting to dull and then use my analytical brain to sort the wood from chaff; which part of this was on me?" Failure isn't a one-size-fi ts-all thing. Companies fail, employees fail, individuals fail. Some of the failures, like James's, are private and quiet, while others, like Oatly's or Talor's, are louder and more public. "We've screwed up in the past, and we will in the future," Mike of Oatly says. "We aren't perfect. You have to have the courage to keep going. You have to fi gure out a plan and work your way through it— and to set a tone that this will happen again. That gives people a little more freedom to breathe." It's crucial, he says, to have the ability "to say, it's not great, but we'll do our best and keep going." "You have to figure out a plan and work your way through it—and to set a tone that this will happen again. That gives people a little more freedom to breathe." —Mike Messersmith, Oatly 90 barista magazine

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