Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why fear failure?

It's normal to not want to fail. To actively fear failure is not the same thing.

No one likes to try and then not succeed but we all realize it is part of the learning curve. You can't hop on a bike and balance on the first try. You can't ice skate without practice. You can't run a large, complex project without falling off the rails a few times along the way. (same goes for parenting)

Yet there is a growing sense in our careers  (and sometimes personal lives) that we must avoid failure at all cost." Ick.  Mistakes will happen; try to not make the same one twice.

This avoidance turns into a fear of failure that is different from doing one's best to ensure few errors happen through good planning and open conversation.  Fearing failure means that instead of taking measured risks and knowing there is a tolerated margin of error, one defers decisions or refuses all risk resulting in a poorer, more limited outcome.

Fear is not always a bad thing. Making driving choices because mistakes could be fatal is a good idea. In other, less life/death instances, ask "what's the worst thing that could happen?"  Chances are you could deal with it, plan for it or… perhaps it is just too outrageous/irrational a fear to have a real chance of occurring.  If everyone got fired or unloved for every mistake, there's be lots more unemployed lonely folks out there…

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is a promotion an outcome or a goal?

Is achieving a promotion the outcome of doing great work, thinking through a good self brand and having a thoughtful career plan?... or it is the goal itself?

I think it's an outcome. You can have great skills and leadership abilities and still never get that promotion. However, you're not any less of a great leader where you are.

The goals should be to have the career focus, skills, and reputation you desire through excellent planning, mentoring, networking and sponsorship. The outcome of this thoughtful approach to your life should result in the jobs and levels you desire. However, the promotion is only one measurement of success.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

You take your skills wherever you go

I've got a new job and it's very exciting; it's been a while since I've been in a position where I didn't know what I was doing. I am finding it exhilarating!

Day four and what I've most noticed is... that while I may not understand the nuance and tasks associated with the business and the job, the skillset I have is exactly the right fit for the job. Too often we get caught in the details, worrying that the specifics are missing. It is really the big picture into which we need to fit; everything else falls into place with time and experience.

Actually, I did the very thing I coach others to never do. As the job was described to me, I said "Hey, I know some great folks to send you who will be terrific!"
"Why not you?" I was asked.
"Oh no... I could only do a third of the job competently," I replied.

sigh.
Even the mentors forget their training occasionally.

Am I immediately useful to my new manager? Yes. Because I understand the critical thinking necessary for success in delivering what he wants. So I can ask good questions even if I don't have access or understanding of the specifics yet. Risk, controls, cost, people, behaviours, etc. are all still valid questions. In answering these questions, the entire teams drives to a deeper and stronger solution.

I might not be able to propose solutions at this point but I certainly can contribute thoughtful questions. That's a habit to keep, new in the job or not.