It’s true, I am in the midst of failing my way straight to the top. Of course, it doesn’t always feel like those failures are a trajectory to the professional acumen I desire, but it is in fact the cold hard truth. And none of us are immune.
I am certain you can identify with some portion of the following. Depending on where I was at in life and what was going on I used to take failures personally, often letting it affect all areas of my life. Especially when those moments seemed to pile up all at once. I would react in several ways: anger, seclusion, and/or a vow to never “do that again” – p.s. I always would. At least until I learned to embrace the failures, no matter how hard they were. – p.p.s. I haven’t totally mastered how to that yet either, I will always be a work in progress.
A big portion of learning how to embrace the failures is age, it’s also life experiences, business experiences, and ironically, successes. I’m not entirely sure when I started to transition from the paralyzing side effects of failure to embracing it, but I do know the how:
Let me clarify here, its not just finding the right mentors, its learning how to utilize those mentors. Sometimes you need a cheerleader, sometimes you need very specific subject matter advice, and yes, sometimes you need that slap in the face, look in the mirror, what are you doing, call you to the table talk. Having more than one mentor to fulfill these roles is essential.Another big part of learning to use mentors is learning when the mentor/mentee relationship has evolved to the point it wasn’t productive for a particular goal. And yes, learning how to have that conversation which protects the relationship you have built. I credit a lot of learning how to build my “personal board of directors” to the non profit, Hot Momma’s Project (check them out).
Failure is actually the greatest catalyst towards clarity. In fact, it’s downright liberating at times. How many times have you actually felt like the biggest weight on your shoulders was lifted after a failure – okay, after the initial shock and awe wore off….I mean who among us hasn’t opened that email and used a choice word or two?It’s true. Learning to embrace failure is like finally clearing a clogged drain (well, that wasn’t the most sexy analogy, but it works.) Often times we find ourselves stuck on all business avenues because we are subconsciously “clogged” from one particular project or situation. Once that clog has been cleared, albeit failure, it opens up room from free flowing perspective and energy on just about everything else.
Don’t believe me, take a look a back. I can say that even in the worst failures or moments of my life, something more amazing happened as a result of the lessons I learned in each.
3) Patting Yourself on the Back.
As women, even fierce women, we are not programmed to stop and and congratulate ourselves when we have achieved something good. It’s almost unheard of to assume we stop to pat ourselves on the back for failing. Okay, I know, I might be losing some of you here, but the fact is we need to commit to taking a moment to embrace the failure with a congratulatory note to self. After all, failure is a big part of success, so if you are failing it’s likely you are on the right path. You had enough grit to make it through the worst of times! Yeah you!
So there it is I learned to embrace failure, but here is the kicker. I actually fail more now than before. Why? Well that’s simple. Because once I learned to embrace failure, I started taking more risks, which open you up to more failures (what a vicious cycle). On the flip side, it also opens you up to greater success – one failure at a time.
Kara Vanderpool Ward is owner of Triple V Enterprises where she works daily along side her father, affectionately dubbed the Suit, and her brother, The Hoodie. She is the United States Winner of the Hot Momma’s Project, the worlds largest case study project for women housed at George Washington University, and the recipient of the Patricia Lacy Metzger Distinguished Woman Award from The University of Mary Washington. She lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband and two teenage daughters and is caregiver to her 88 year old grandmother.