Is Your Brain Stunting Your Career Growth?

Is Your Brain Stunting Your Career Growth?

Do you constantly worry about failure? If so, part of your brain function could actually be hurting your career growth. A recent NY Times article explains why painful professional failure can (surprisingly) help a person achieve greater career success. How? It liberates them from the powerful control a part of their brain has which is obsessed with avoiding failure.

Dang, That Sneaky Anterior Insula!

In the article, Dr. Richard Peterson, a psychiatrist explains, “There is a part of the brain called the anterior insula, and that is where we process losses,” he said. “It creates a physical sensation of pain, and it also creates a sensation of disgust.” In short, we are so afraid to lose and have the anterior insula kick in and wreak havoc on our happiness, we use blind, unfounded hope and optimism to delay the inevitable: failure. Similar to losing money at the track, we think doubling down will solve our problems, when most of the time it leads to more debt.

Solution: Move On To Your Next “At-Bat”

The best part of the article is a quote by Michael Dearing, a Harvard Business School grad whose own experience with severe career failure liberated him professionally. He says,“I thought I had one shot to be successful. . . . I had no idea that my career — or anybody’s career — is actually a multi-round process and that you have many, many at-bats.”

Too Scared To Swing? Try These Steps

If fear of failure is stunting your career growth, consider these steps for freeing yourself from the debilitating effects of your brain’s anterior insula.

1. Assume You Will Fail

Game over. What should you do next? Start to visualize life after career failure so you can identify the quickest way to get back on track.

2. Find Someone Who Has Failed

Find someone who has failed in a similar way and has successfully moved on. Interview them about what they did to get back on track. It will not only make you feel better about your ability to move on, you will get valuable insight on the best way to do it.

3. Use What You Learned

Identify three lessons learned from the experience and plan how you will use that powerful knowledge going forward. Entrepreneurs often fail multiple times before a business they founded becomes successful. As a business-of-one, you need to learn from your failure and apply it to your next career move so you can improve your chances of success.

One More Thing…

Don’t forget to compliment yourself for trying! Many people go through life not taking any chances. Career satisfaction will forever elude them because they aren’t using the trial-and-error method needed to create an authentic career that will make them happy. You, on the other hand, swung for the bleachers and struck out…this time. Give yourself an “A” for effort. Next time, you’ll take what you learned to bat and try again. Do that enough times, and you’ll eventually hit one!

Your Next Step

School teaches you everything except how to get the job. You must invest time in learning the right way to job search.  

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