Failure (and some success)

Buenos Aires, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I failed. That is how I felt on Monday. But it is Wednesday today and I feel different now.

I cancelled the events that I tried to organize with The Good Men Project. Nobody registered. Nobody. Zero people. Normally registrations trickle in slowly but surely. The change that a lot (or just enough) people show up at the very last moment is very small.

It was a very difficult decision. I don’t like to give up but putting so much energy in without results was also difficult. I don’t like to disappoint others and there were a handful of people who helped me a lot and I fear they regret that. I feel ashamed of myself and I find it painful to ‘lose’ so publicly and visibly.

Writing about it brings back the awful feeling. It is a feeling of rawness and sadness and it is connected with the feeling of being misunderstood that has been part of me for such a long time.

Meanwhile many good things happened too. I had such a nice time in Buenos Aires. I really like this city. After our office hours a whole new day starts with food, wine, dancing and music. Every night of the week is like this. I love this flow and vibrancy of Buenos Aires. I met so many kind people. I felt so embraced. It was really touching.

I gave a little workshop in the holistic shop of a friend of a guy who contacted me through CouchSurfing. My participants spoke only Spanish and my CouchSurfing friend translated for me. A lady who just walked into the shop randomly was sent upstairs by the owner and all of a sudden found herself in my meditation workshop. She told me she had been dreaming of doing something with meditation for years and now it just happened. She shared with the group that it felt as a very important moment in her life. Another participant told me that she finally understood what meditation is about and realizes that it is valuable and beneficial for her too. I love to see those pennies drop. It totally makes my day.

Sonia, the owner of the shop, gave me a necklace to protect me from negativity in the taxi. Such kindness makes me want to come back before I even left.

I feel sad about leaving Buenos Aires and I am curious about New York. Cancelling the workshops created a new paradigm: I have more time and don’t need to worry about promotion. I am dying for some good coffee and look forward to hang in friendly coffee shops with eccentric barristas and nice conversation. Although I have to start focusing on Hong Kong too I want to give myself a break and enjoy the city and the people.

My ‘failure’ also makes me think about the book I want to write. I am still not sure what the book should be about. But I am quite clear that a book should come into existence. I have made a little step though. I was not clear if I should write in Dutch or English but I realized the other day that a fresh perspective on life, masculinity and leadership (to name a few topics that I care about and resonate with) is much more needed in the more restricted places that I have visited like India or Iraq. This implies that I don’t want to limit myself to a Dutch or even Western audience. Which conflicts with the idea that I should perhaps be more modest, since I don’t have a book, a publisher or an idea and no track record or being compelling to the masses, but that aside.

I find it very hard to learn from being unable to get workshops off the ground in NYC. I don’t know what I did wrong. The only thing I can think of is that I lack authority, reputation, experience and network in NYC. And that I can create all that if I want that. But I am not sure if I want to create that. I don’t want to market myself and pretend to be more interesting than I am. I just want to be honest. I am not sure if that is naïve or not. There is an aspect of stubbornly following my own path, unwilling to conform to the rules of the game. But to be honest: I don’t feel that bad right now. I tried really hard and that give me some sense of fulfillment too.

The pics are from the good moments in Buenos Aires. When the sun goes down all the problems fade away. Thank you Chicho, Mariela, Mariano, Sonia, Julieta, Julia, Amy and Pim for the great nights and beautiful moments.


  1. Justyna says

    Hey Big guy!
    Long time no see! I wanted to say…Maybe workshops in NYC were not ment to be.. maybe you were ment to help this lady that walked into the shop. And more, I wanted to share ideas from my own experience… And then, I realised that the best way to be here with you is to say : I hear you my friend, I hear your disappointment, and I hear you sense of failure. with love J.

  2. says

    I feel bad about your workshops in NYC, too, like we failed to deliver the connections to what you needed. I’m sorry. I hope you can still fall in love with NYC. It’s my city (though I no longer live in it—now I live in my valley ;)) I usually wish people safe travels, but I see that yours are inherently risky, so I will wish you success, instead, knowing that not everything you get is what you wish for. Success and.

    • says

      Thx man! And I do love the city and I will try it again next time. There is something very tempting and challenging about this place. I can understand people want to succeed here.

      I understand your feeling because I feel the same. But I appreciate your efforts and our time will come. Thank you.

  3. Eduard says

    Hoi Atalwin, Ik hoor je zeggen dat je je (nog steeds) niet of verkeerd begrepen voelt. Hoe zou je dan wel begrepen willen worden? Waar denk je dat jouw verwachting/ wens niet aansluit met de realiteit van het moment? Later geef je aan dat je denkt dat het wellicht louter komt omdat je jezelf niet goed genoeg hebt kunnen ‘verkopen’ omdat je nog geen boek hebt, niet bekend genoeg bent. In hoeverre staat dit in verband met elkaar? Wat betekend eerlijk zijn eigenlijk voor jouw? In mijn ogen ben je nog steeds met een heel mooi avontuur bezig. Soms zit het even tegen en op andere momenten heb je de wind in de zeilen. Geniet van NYC en hopelijk heb je een fijne randevu in Hongkong met je Russische vriendin. (Klinkt best als een man van de wereld) Liefs Ed

  4. Viv says

    Zie dit niet als falen! Tot nu toe ben je alleen maar aan het winnen lieverd; je volgt je hart en je dromen. Zou gek zijn als je niet af en toe over een hobbeltje moet. Dit is het mooiste avontuur van je leven en twijfelen aan jezelf dat je misschien niet begrepen wordt hoort erbij, evenals ál die heerlijke gevoelens en kleine gelukjes. Dat maakt het leven juist zo mooi. Het zou saai en ook ongezond zijn als het áltijd maar succesvol was. Begin nou maar gewoon dat boek, de rest komt vanzelf. Just be you.

    Smk, V.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *