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The Power of the Epic Fail

I made a promise to myself that may sound wacky, but I am pretty committed to it.   I promised myself I would FAIL at something in the next 30 days.     Gosh that sounds like a defeatist attitude but hear me out.  To have a goal of failing at something goes against everything we’ve been taught in the land of perfectionism that we have cultivated.  For many of us, we feel we must be perfect all the time, or at least appear perfect (thank you social media).     Countless studies have shown that women in particular are far less likely to strive to achieve a goal, position or objective until they KNOW they can achieve it.   Where’s the fun in that?    If we only strive for goals that we know we can achieve are we even challenging ourselves?  Not really.  No, no, not at all really. 

Applying this to the workplace I would postulate that we have even less tolerance for failing even though this the only way for folks to grow.   To be good at something, you often must suck at it first.    But we have very little tolerance for suckage at work because the stakes are so high.  I would say intolerance of failure is a surefire way to chloroform your talent pool.   If everyone who makes mistakes at work is given the scarlet letter, then your succession planning just became a dumpster fire.    I personally have seen leaders lament the fact that they have no successors, but they hoard information and assignments because if they delegate it could be done incorrectly.   Let them do it incorrectly I say!  Or even better delegate and teach them how to do it, rather than tell them what to do.  And let them fall on their face a bit.    Why are we so afraid to let people try and fail?  And why does failure have to be fatal?   I have failed so often and made ginormous mistakes in my career and I am better for every one of them.    Every single one.

Whether in life or at work, failure is the only way to get out of your comfort zone.     There was a quote that someone once told me that I hung onto early in my career, “be intolerant of failure when success is possible.”  It probably looked awesome on a cool poster of the Taj Mahal from Successories (I’m dating myself with that reference).    Today……I don’t think it’s cool.  I think it’s dumb.  The word intolerant is where I get hung up.   I believe we should be super tolerant of failure as a mechanism for growth.    I think to be successful; you need the mistakes and the failure to form the next chapter and help you know how to move forward.   

So, who wants to fail fabulously with me in the next 30 days?  Here are a few things I’m going to fail at:

·         Eating entirely gluten and dairy free

·         Riding 100 peloton rides in 30 days and breaking 500 output on a 45-minute ride

·         Cold calling at least 100 business prospects

·         Golfing well enough to actually keep score

·         Meeting 20 new connections at a networking event

With a list like that, I can’t lose.   Let’s all suck at something shall we? 

Y’all may know I am on a bit of a Maren Morris kick lately so it should surprise no one that Maren is this week’s addition to the inspireal playlist.  And damn if it doesn’t totally match the blog theme!   

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Jill Parker