Kerning The Gap is a collective of like-minded people who want to see more women in design leadership roles. 70% of graphic design students are women; yet only 11% are Creative Directors. It’s quite a shocking statistic. I was delighted when I was invited to speak at ‘Kerning The Gap’ in Liverpool around the topic of equality and learning from failure.
The only guarantee when we step up into a bigger role, grow a business or try something new is that not everything is going to go swimmingly. Failure is never comfortable but if we embrace it instead of pushing it away, it will have a much smaller hold on us and the lives we want to live.
What I notice in my work as an executive coach is that those women who work to manage their relationship with risk, uncertainty and letting go of being in control and see failure from a “what am I learning?” perspective – are the ones fair better when it comes to business and their careers. As Nietzsche eloquently puts it, “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Ultimately, what holds us back is the FEAR of failure rather than the failure itself. Instead of asking, “what if it all goes wrong?” ask “what if it all goes right?” So if you are uncomfortable with the thought of failing here 3 things to try to get you into the groove!
1. Get to know yourself and your relationship with taking a risk, uncertainty and failure
Really get to know it – then start to work on building the muscle to have a more helpful relationship with it. If you don’t like taking a risk, have a plan A and if you need it a plan B and a plan C. Our brains can be less reactive if we have a plan. When I left the corporate world to start my first business, one of the company directors offered, “if it doesn’t work out there is always a job for you here”. That helped me take the leap of faith as I dived into the deep end. Thankfully I never had to take him up on his kind offer!
2. Listen to your intuition
Intuition is facts that are waiting to be established. If something doesn’t feel right before you do it check it out with some facts if you need to. Learn the difference between “this doesn’t feel right” and “it feels right – I am just scared in case I fail”. When you start to develop your relationship with yourself, you will start to be able to distinguish where the real barriers are
3. Ask for help before you need it
People like to help – make sure it’s the person who would be best placed to advise you. I once got what I thought was terrific PR advice from a mentor and took it on face value that it would be a winner. I hadn’t considered he was in a different sector to me and it had worked for him yet in my business it was far too big a step too early.
Someone else’s advice is simply someone else advice and what they might do is not necessarily the best thing for you. At the end of the day, take responsibility for the choices you make and if something doesn’t work out reap the rewards of the learning. if you are uncomfortable asking for help it ask yourself why and what would you do if you knew you had someone you could really help and found out they didn’t want to bother you!
No failure, no learning, no growth!