Earlier this month, I received a rude awakening. All summer, I had been preparing and fine-tuning my presentation for this project that has become near and dear to my heart. My chosen venue to debut EarthFit was the International Congress of Zookeepers in Germany. To me, sharing this program with the zookeeper community was a no-brainer. EarthFit had been developed while I was a zookeeper, and it had truly benefited me as a zookeeper. My conservation messages hit home more effectively. I inspired some of my co-workers to get fit with me with these principles. I had initially become interested in health and fitness to actually improve animal welfare based on the simple question, “How can I provide great care to the animals if I don’t take care of myself?”. All the concepts of being a zookeeper had inspired EarthFit to incorporate my passions into a giant ball of awesome. I felt the most obvious community to share EarthFit for the first time would be other zookeepers, so they could see the benefits of incorporating a conservation-focused wellness program into their routines. Because, for real, who doesn’t want to be better at their job?When the conference came, I was ready! EarthFit was ready! The rest of the world? Not so much. Out of the 200 delegates at ICZ, only five people showed initial interest in EarthFit to sign-up for the workshop. What’s worse, though, is out of the five to sign-up, only one person actually attended.
I was devastated. I’m still reeling from the disappointment. I really believe in EarthFit. I feel it will change the way we look at our own well-being. And I feel it could potentially revolutionize how we inspire conservation actions in others, too. But how was I supposed to spread my message if no one wanted to hear it. It was quite a revelation for me. But, rather than give up on EarthFit, I have decided to not go quietly into the night. I have already sacrificed some things I cared about deeply to pursue this project, so giving up is not an option.
I am simply learning to fly. Birds don’t flap their wings for the first time and take flight. They falter. They flop. But they get back up and either try something new or go in a different direction. But birds don’t just give up on the notion of flying when they fall on the ground.
I have a fantastic idea, one that may be a spark to change the world for the better. But this is also a new idea. And new ideas, especially revolutionary and innovative ones, don’t always sell themselves at first. So, from this learning experience, I have dozen of ideas swirling around to prepare for my next steps in sharing EarthFit with the world.
First, I have to really buy-in to the idea that EarthFit is now my JOB. I’m not a zookeeper anymore, nor am I trying to be a zookeeper anymore. I am the founder and consultant for EarthFit. As such, my job is to continue to develop EarthFit, and make it to be all it has the potential to be. That means I need to develop myself as a trainer, nutritionist, researcher, and writer. Continuing my studies to become certified as a trainer and nutritionist will become priorities. As will writing, daily. Blogging is just one aspect, I want the world to consider me a mentor in the area of conservation and fitness, so I’m also looking into Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, and Facebook to continue to promote and share EarthFit. I can use this platform to share my journey with all of you, share relevant articles and knowledge I am gathering through my research and studies, and share workouts, recipes, and tips with my growing community. And my community will grow, as I get better at writing, and as EarthFit begins reaching more and more folks.
I also already have ideas for promoting my workshops to communities as well. I plan on continuing to attend zookeeping conferences, so I’m polishing my presentation further, preparing promotional materials, and literally selling my program to my audience. One idea is to continue to work on not just my cookbook, but other books that correlate well with EarthFit. Once finished, I will be offering E-book coupons to those that attend my workshops.
The end result of these changes will be a realization that while completely disappointing, ICZ was a learning experience that has motivated me more than anything has ever before. Learning to fly takes a few failures before you can soar with the eagles. EarthFit will succeed. I’ll see you all at the finish line!