Do You Feel Like You Are Failing At Your Job?

Three strategies when you feel like you are failing at work.

Photo: Getty Previously published on Forbes

Our evolutionary fight-flee-or freeze response is triggered by fear of failure and embarrassment that interferes with our ability to engage in creativity, critical and innovative thinking, and emotional engagement with others.”

In other words, if you tell yourself that you are a failure, you’re unlikely to be able to engage the emotional distance necessary to reflect on what happened and learn from the situation. You are more likely to go into a tailspin of remorse, anger and blame.

3 Steps for Reframing Failure

I don’t use the word “failure” anymore. I prefer the word “breakdown,” which I define simply as an interruption in what you thought was going to happen. Things just didn’t go the way you anticipated. A breakdown typically causes either a surprise or an upset, or some kind of disturbance.

1. Catch yourself being defensive.

Defensiveness is a sure sign of a closed mind. And a closed mind isn’t going to learn anything. Notice when you feel defensive and take a breath. Then reflect: What are you trying to defend? What are you afraid will or won’t happen? What might happen if you open your mind and are curious?

2. Note what you have learned.

It’s not the end of the world if you mess up once in a while, as long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same ones over and over again. Think back to some of the “failures” you’ve had in the past. What did you learn? How can you apply what you’ve learned in this current breakdown? What might you learn from this circumstance? And remember, often, you need distance from the emotionality to really be able to think straight and reflect. Be patient about identifying what you’ve learned. It may take a while to get there.

3. Get help from others before taking action.

None of us is as smart as all of us. Get help from others to test your thinking before taking important actions. Don’t try to deal with the “bet-the-ranch” kinds of decisions on your own.

Founder of Henley Leadership Group. Developing leaders who create happy, productive workplaces. Thought Leader | Executive Coach | Forbes Contributor | Speaker

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