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I’m a huge fan of the TED Talks and this one by educator, Diana Laufenberg immediately got me thinking. In it, she highlights how we’ve become obsessed with having ‘one right answer’ and the concept of rewarding those who strive to always be correct. The result: A failure to learn – isn’t that ironic? I could not agree more with her thinking on experiential learning and the need to embrace failure as a way to educate. Her talk made me wonder, “How many struggling, dissatisfied professionals out there are stalled because they’re trying too hard to avoid failure?” As adult learners, I believe our ability to embrace failing as a way to learn is squelched by our pride to look ‘smart’ and to be ‘right.’ My own personal experience as a career educator has proven to me that it’s not until people are in acute pain and feeling total failure that they finally ask for professional help. As tough as it is, failure motivates us to learn and grow! One ‘Failure’ Success Story Recently, a member of our Career HMO wanted some coaching on how to reach out to a stranger on LinkedIn to request an informational interview. We have lots of video tutorials and articles on the subject inside our program, but we also encourage members to send us a draft initially of the template they are using when sending a request so we can help them make sure it is a balance of both personal (to get the person’s interest) and professional (to get the stranger to feel we are worthy of connecting with). This member was eager to get going and felt he understood the concept well enough he sent his e-mail to someone without first having a career coach review it. The result was an unpleasant response from the person he sent it to, a.k.a. he failed. Now, had he not been a member of our Career HMO, he could have easily given up and decided this was a terrible way to network. Instead, he sent me his initial e-mail request and we discussed where it missed the mark. He immediately saw how it needed to be changed so it got a better reaction and put the new template to use. The very next attempt resulted in something incredible: Not only did the stranger reply positively, but he offered extensive information and guidance to help our Career HMO member connect with some people in the industry he is trying to break into. His small failure, coupled with instant feedback to help him learn from it taught him so much – and now he is on his way to expanding his network with confidence. For those of you who haven’t realized the power of failure, I hope this post inspires you to fail more! And for those of you who don’t know what a Career HMO is, I encourage you to come check it out. We’ll show you how to take all that failure and put it to good use! Anybody else have thoughts on the need to fail more to find the professional success we desire? Photo credit: Shutterstock
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