I don’t tend to be an advocate of not-great movies. However, if a mediocre (or bad) movie holds a true nugget of wisdom, I am certainly not above digging it out and sharing it when I believe it to be helpful.
The movie “Meet the Robinsons” is one such case. It was not great. All it truly offered was one part with the power to make one laugh every single view. This one little nugget of share-worthy wisdom, the one which genuinely moved me, created an “ah-ha” moment is the driving force illuminating the bright side.
The main character accidentally traveled to the future and has been taken in by a very eccentric family. The traveler tries to show the eccentric family an invention, and it goes disastrously wrong. As he awaits their fury and begins to retreat into humiliation, a strange thing happens. They cheer for him.
Are you thinking, “Okay, what’s the point of humiliation and how can retreating possibly progress career aspirations?” Thing is, we’ve all experienced humiliation… but how we react to humbleness often defines personal AND professional success or failure…
Getting back to the movie, they celebrate his mistake and bring him to an understanding that it is only by failing that you can ever succeed.
As one (of many, I’m sure) who had never considered this notion before, it hit me pretty hard. Not in a position to deny or confirm, this moment may or may not have brought a tear to my eye. My “ah-ha” moment forced me to ask: how long have I prolonged my success by not embracing my failures?
Of course, the idea of celebrating failure seems oxymoronic. It goes against everything we’ve been socially, culturally, and professionally trained, it goes against our instincts, and, worst of all, it threatens the ego. Truth is (?), we have an inherent need to feel in-control and accepted at all times, and we will protect that need at all costs… even if it means stagnation.
Tom Harford states that the ego is the enemy of improvement, and in so many ways he is right. Sometimes, the idea of being wrong, rejected, or otherwise humiliated is so overwhelming that we will avoid anything (even something great) that bears the potential (Can you say network avoidance due to fear of rejection—I certainly can).
Let’s look at a couple of the factors behind failure’s massive intimidation factor.
Past Experience – Embarrassing moments from the past can stick out in your mind like a bad scene in a movie. If you had a physical reaction when it happened, chances are it’s magnified when you look back on it. One way to get caught up in an avoidance quagmire is by repeating negative thoughts you had about yourself in that moment. “I’m so stupid,” “I’ll never live this down,” “this always happens to me.”
This may seem harmless; it may seem like something you can’t help. But it isn’t harmless by eroding self-esteem, which only makes it harder to make better decisions or handle situations better in the future. Good news is, self-doubt is entirely something you can do something about. Take time to affirm and visualize events in a positive light… to believe is the first step to becoming.
Future Implications – There is a big difference between planning for a negative outcome and expecting one. Often we take our bad experiences from the past and project them onto our futures, and we most often do this inaccurately.
Our brains are hard-wired to make short-term predictions based on past experiences. The front-polar cortex, the front-most part of your brain, is what tells you to expect a light to come on when you flip a switch and gives you three different scenarios in the event you run that stop sign.
Problems are encountered by allowing our overactive imaginations to do this job instead. No matter what statistics you may have heard, you can still fear lightning in the same place you were last time it struck.
I am not suggesting the disregard of caution. I am suggesting the disposal of irrational fears that hold us back from our true and great selves, and to understand the difference between the two.
Allowing the irrational fears of an overactive imagination to stop you from trying is failure at its worst.
* Does a bad breakup keep you from dating?
* Would a bad interview bring your job search to a halt?
Slipping does not mean your next step will find you sliding. Quite the opposite, slipping often allows great insight while bestowing greater resolve to take advantages of opportunities to the fullest. Can you think of anyone who has not slipped? Unfortunately we all know someone who has slipped and allowed that one misstep to take control of their personal and professional life.
Ultimately YOU have control. It is up to you to act on a failure and conquer self-induced fears. The key is to be honest with yourself about past mistakes, the risks involved in current decisions, and the line between your reputation and who you know yourself to actually be. This can free you to take calculated risks and act with the kind of confidence that allows you to claim your rightful place in this world.
Personally inviting you to share your stories, send questions and professional stories my way.
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Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com