Good morning everyone.
“Why do we fall?”
I fell last week. Specifically, I learned a had disappointed a major collaborator in my new role. The message got back to me via my direct manager and was associated to a commitment I made to this person in the hiring process of my new job. The feedback went something like this “This is one of the reasons we really liked Kevin in the new role. Right now this does not appear to be happening.”.
Ouch. That was harsh…but also spot on and I knew it.
There is a lot written today about failing and failing fast. This was different, this is falling. I had overcommitted and not met expectations. As I got this email on Friday morning, initially my spirits sank. Years ago this would destroyed my weekend. I probably would have spent it with a three Advil migraine, and been an absolute bear around my family.
And today while I treat this very seriously, here are some of the things I did and am doing to “get back up”
- Be self aware – As I mentioned above, there was a time where this would have destroyed my weekend. Over the years, I have learned to be more conscious of my emotions. Emotional responses, good or bad, are never usually helpful in a situation like this. Honestly, the first thing I did was take a deep breath.
- Own it – I knew this was my issue straight away. It was my job to own this. But “owning it” does not mean”:
- “Woe is me” – Feeling sorry for myself is not going to help get this back on track. Frankly, it is wasting energy trying to elicit sympathy. I am thankful I had a boss that told me this once…it is a lesson I will never forgot.
- No excuses – Excuses are another defensive mechanism. “Let’s blame someone else to deflect any impact on me”. Also a poor choice as it sends a message that you are willing to throw others under the bus to protect yourself.
- What did you learn? For anyone that has worked for me, I finally took some of my own medicine. On my teams, past and present, I don’t spend much time on “How could you let this happen?”….rather I have found immensely more value in asking “What did you learn?” No matter the situation, asking “What did you learn?” is about solutions and growing. Here are some of the key things to consider when asking this:
- Be very introspective – What could you have done better? Drill deep and drill wide….but do it quickly. Ask yourself some honest questions and build some authentic solutions.
- Think solutions – While there may be short term actions necessary to begin turning things around, go all the way and think about real long term solutions that will prevent recurrences.
- It is absolutely about growth – The only way this question can be effective is if the person answering commits to growing via the solutions mentioned above. Accept this as an opportunity to create a new habit or personal practice to avoid revisiting the issue another time.
- Get to work – Avoid analysis paralysis and getting stuck in a “Woe is me” funk. One of the best ways to “get back up” is to get to work remedying the situation. But keep the above (Be self Aware, Own it, and What did you learn?) in mind as you dig in.
“Why do we fall?” …..”So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
The only failure in falling is staying down. Dust yourself off and get back up….but remember what you’ve learned and get back up, even better.
Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:
The Key To Creative Insight Can Be Simpler Than You Think – by Eric Jaffe – via Fast Company Design
SO WHAT: An interesting review of the incubation process. So many of us have been taught to power through creative blocks, when in fact, one of the best solutions is to walk away from the problem or challenge and allow incubation to do its work.
Behind the Scenes: Here’s How I Sell An Idea – by Beth Comstock – via Linked In
SO WHAT: Building on the previous article, here the CMO of GE goes through a great process for developing and testing an idea. Most importantly, as she puts it, you have to be able to tell it to sell it.
Putting Soul Back Into Business – by Tony Schwartz – via The New York Times
SO WHAT: Showing people trust is returned with responsible behavior. In my experience, I would even say it is a fusion machine: trust your employees, as per above ask “What have you learned?” and the return is far greater than you can imagine….causing you to trust more.
You Need a Community, Not a Network – by Brook Manville, via Harvard Business Review
SO WHAT: The ideas presented in this article document the journey that I have been on as a leader the past few years. Sharing purpose (a WHY) with the team and allowing them to be heroes can truly build a community of team members that can accomplish extraordinary goals as one unit.
This Invaluable Lesson Will Keep You From Making Catastrophic Hiring Mistakes – by Lou Adler – via Inc.
SO WHAT: Understand what the role needs to do. To the author’s point, it is exactly how we promote people…why not hire the same way.
All the best,