The concept of leveraging failure is one I’ve read about for years. Most recently, I really enjoyed Courtney Johnson’s charming TED talk “Failure is Necessary.” He is so clearly afraid of failing even as he is doing his talk that it is impossible not to relate. Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Success, failure and the drive to keep creating” is also a favorite though far more polished. Her confidence and easy grace blow me away every time I hear her speak.
It is undeniable that mistakes happen — they are part of life both professional and personal. I hope to always recognize and learn from them; mine and those of others. The trick, for me, is not becoming mired in disappointment in myself. I have always expected a lot from myself and I absolutely hate when I fail or under-perform. I’m practicing getting on with it, implementing new solutions, and being excited that I’ve evolved a little more. I guess I’m trying to really own my failures rather than letting them own me.
It isn’t only about me.
When we’re looking for work, it’s scary to talk about mistakes. We’re supposed to talk ourselves up, right? But miscalculations and how we react to them reveal so much about a person’s character. How we discuss them puts our ability to take ownership and grow on full display.
More and more, I feel emboldened to lay my cards on the table. I want you to know me if we are going to work together. I want to build trust in the relationship. So, by taking that first step to be vulnerable, I am inviting you to know how I think and to see that while I am confident in my abilities, I am not closed off by them.
I want others to feel comfortable discussing failure, too. I am never averse to being the first on the dance floor if a song I like comes on. Similarly, I don’t mind being among the few to prompt this conversation. And if it makes it easier for others to say, “Psht, y’know what? A few years ago I wrote a terrible blog post, but I learned X” so much the better!
Getting down to it.
To that end, I am toying with the idea of doing #TBTs with past projects — some from very early in my career — and discussing what my intentions were, where things went right, where they went wrong, and what I’d do differently now. It’s an exercise for myself as much as it is a way to help you get to know my process.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about it or that I’m unafraid of trolls. But, like Courtney Johnson said, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.”
What do you think?