Are your failures helping or hurting you

Listen on:

Have you ever stoped and really thought about what your life would be like if you were willing to fail? Seriously, image how many more things you would try if failure was no big deal.

I think there are two ways we can choose to look at failure.

Your default brain wants to see it as evidence around why you suck and should never try scary things again. This way of thinking about failure just adds to the stress and anxiety you are already feeling.
Your higher brain, however, has the ability to think of failure as an additional datapoint and one step closer to where you are trying to go.

Say you really want to get promoted. Image how fast it would happen if you did not care about failing and went out and tried to learn 10 new skills to add even more value to the team. Then image the other side where you worry about failing and stick to what you know and trying to get better at what you are already good at. Which way gets you promoted faster?

Or maybe you want to rotate teams but are worried about finding the perfect situation. You could worry about making the wrong choice and just keep doing coffee chats and informal interviews and take 8 months to rotate. Or you could do a few coffee chats over the next month, find a team that seems like a good option and make the move. If it does not work out, now you know what to look going forward and can rotate again. The failure taught you more about what to look for when changing jobs in less time than the 8 months of making extra sure things were just right. Because we all know, nothing stays the same so there’s no such thing as just right.

I know exactly what failure feels like. I’m getting pretty good at it. I know that I feel it deep in my chest and it’s super tight. It rushes all around and feels like it wants to burst out. My chest gets all splotchy and my shoulders feel like a million pounds. But guess what, that the worst of it. And since I’m willing to feel that, I’m making things happen. Are you?

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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