How do you define failure? Failure, to me, is a must. What would it feel like if it wasn’t an option but a must for you to reach your own destiny? It feels like freedom to me.
You may be thinking that sounds crazy. We spend most of our lives trying to avoid failure at all costs. I’m challenging you to re-think your perspective. Over the years, I learned many painful lessons that brought me to where I am today. If you just shift your view of what it means to fail, then you just may see it as a must too. This is how I define the art of the F word:
F – Focused: Define what you want and how you plan to get there.
A – Adaptable: Change is never ending, set a vision and then be flexible enough to evolve it.
I - Ideation: Challenge your own beliefs and poke holes in your own concepts.
L - Laughter: Do not take yourself so seriously. Innovation begins with having a little fun.
U- Unconventional: Stand out from the crowd. Be creative and try the path less traveled.
R- Real: Always be authentic. Bring your most passionate and creative self to the surface.
E- Elevated: Rise above your own ego. Our ego’s keep us safe and fearful of the unknown.
In my career, I was always somewhat of a maverick (or so I’ve been told). I was a transparent leader who led by my convictions, values and heart. My leadership team loved my adaptability. In fact, it was my blessing and my curse. They appreciated how I took a challenge and figured out how to make the puzzle pieces fit to solve the issue. They used to comment that they never worried unless I told them there was something to worry about. It was because I always stayed so cool and calm with plenty of thoughts around what to do next.
So you may be asking, what is the curse? Well, that same drive to solve challenges at any cost was also one of my epic failures. Because I was so adaptable, I received all of the horrible assignments to solve. My career path slowly but surely became at the discretion of my leadership. I added value and obtained praise for my work, but I wasn’t doing what I loved to do. I eventually came to resent it. I fixed the problem, but at my own detriment. Praise and acknowledgement was no longer enough to sustain my engagement.
This played itself out in a very bad way in one career move. I had landed the career of my dreams, or so I thought. Within 11 months of being in the role, my responsibilities were restructured three times. I ultimately ended up with a job that I would NEVER have signed up to do. How could this happen? I was new to this company. At least at my other companies, I had years of longevity that allowed my leadership team to pick me up and drop me into new roles to let me take on new challenges.
I started looking inward and reflecting to identify the moment that it all started happening. What I realized is that it always happened in every company that I’ve worked for just never to this extent and never this fast. My curse was being "the fixer." Because I weighed in on situations to offer suggestions, and did not appear overwhelmed with the challenge, I was the one blessed with making it all work.
It was in that moment, I realized the truth; I had a choice. I didn’t have to follow a path that others chose for me. I didn’t have to say yes. I was likely to never stop offering suggestions to help so I needed to figure out how to play to my strengths on my terms. The choice was mine to make. I made a decision to leave my job and start my own business. It was a huge moment of fear for me, but also a freeing one. I had all kinds of inner conflict popping up. Would I be able to make enough money to support my family? Would I be as successful out on my own? Would I….fail. But, my desire to help others as a career and leadership coach filled my spirit with opportunity and possibility. It all ties back to what I said in the beginning. In order for me to pursue my passion and live out my own destiny, I had to fail and not be afraid of more failure. I had to FAIL to push me to take steps that I likely never would have taken.
In an earlier blog, I discussed the question of “do you really want to live like that?” It’s an important question for us to decide in our careers. If you don’t have a passion around what you are doing in life, then you have to feel like its ground hog day…you do the same thing every day, and get the same results. And yet, you may still be confused about why. Failure has allowed me to keep my ego in check and learn what I am truly made of so I could follow my dreams. I wouldn’t change a moment of my epic failures.
What are you tolerating in your life? What failures ultimately enabled you to see your true opportunities? Have you mastered the Art of the F word?