Everyone needs time away from work – this is a fact (or an inconvenient truth, depending on your relationship to work). It's why employment legislation dictates the minimum amount of vacation time an employer establishes for their employees, and their right to take ALL OF IT. On Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs it is the second tier, the one that speaks to family and health (the one right above food and water, and just below career and self-actualization... that's right, you can't enjoy what you have if you're not rested and healthy, that needs to come first).
But sometimes work comes with us on our vacations, and we don't even know it. Let me explain.
Check in. Right now as you are reading this, what is your posture like? Are you hovered over your computer/phone, reading as quickly as you can so you can move on to the next thing on your to-do list? Are you hunched up? Jaw tensed? Are your muscles tight? Are you poised to “move on”? Yup, you and everyone else who is poised to get stuff done.
This physical posture exists because you assume it in many facets at work, it's deeply ingrained in your muscle memory. Let’s call it the “I am going to get work DONE” posture, or "work pose" for short. Think about how many hours a day you're balled up and tense, hunched over a laptop or keyboard. No wonder you need vacation - your body does too. Do you assume an equally intense “I am on VACATION” pose the you're away? Is your body able to become more relaxed, fluid, supple, rested when you're not at work? If you return from a vacation and it feels as if you never left, you may be bringing your work pose with you on vacation.
Work pose happens when we want to drive the maximum amount of productivity out of something; we engage in it with DETERMINATION so fully that we are physically tensed for much of the time, even when it isn't work. Your muscles know this well; they assume the “pose”. This is how work pose comes with you on vacation. I have a wonderful person in my life who is encouraging me to meditate; she remarks that one should move softly into meditation. To help me see exactly what she means, she imitates “work pose” in her chair (shoulders hunched, arms tensed, resting bitch face on) and says “and now I am going to MEDITATE!” Clearly meditating with "work pose" is not going to be effective at all. Neither is vacationing with it.
You will never be able to fully derive all the benefit out of your vacation if you cannot be present for yourself. Vacations have the advantage of taking us out of routine and getting our bodies engaged in something different (like horse back riding, swimming, or just laying on a beach), but vacations are brief. If you have a jam-packed vacation schedule you are also likely spending time in your “work pose” getting the luggage sorted, reading the GPS, trying to get somewhere on time, etc. Try relaxing your muscles; if you're struggling with this here's a great way to un-do "work pose":
We have a costly problem in North America: many of us are not taking our vacations (to the tune of over a billion dollars in unused vacation time every year). Vacations can be costly, more and more of us are choosing to defer them, but we need a full and complete break from work (7-14 consecutive days) to uncurl ourselves from "work pose" - and re-train our bodies to relax away the tension. Vacations release "work pose", but it can take a week to "stand down" from work pose. If you never go on a multi-day vacation, releasing "work pose" gets harder and harder to do.
You're passionate about what you do, and your body will be tense from time to time, so it's beneficial to “check in” and acknowledge how you are sitting/standing. Stopping to follow the guidance of your inner fitness instructor - taking full breaths, stretching and loosening up tense muscles - intentionally taking on "vacation pose". Asking yourself from time-to-time “what do I need right now?”. If you do this more often you will be “in the moment” and that allows you to catch up with yourself, to meet your needs (take a break, grab a drink, move away from your desk).
It creates a new way of being at work, the “I am going to live well” pose, the one where you look after yourself and care enough to breath deeply knowing you are good at what you do, and it will all get done whether you push into it or not. Honouring yourself at work will mean vacations are restful too, not just a “change” but a restorative break.
So, as you're reading this, check your posture and your expectations of yourself – go softly into whatever you choose to pursue, getting more enjoyment from it. Have a great vacation.
Working with Carleen, I don't hate my job anymore! And I didn't have to change employers."
I used to love international travel for work. I would get so much work done during the uninterrupted time on long-distance flights. Sometimes I would get whole days to myself if I was traveling over a weekend, or arriving on a Sunday morning. It felt wonderful because it was all me time “guilt free”, meaning it just happened and I didn’t have to assert my needs by asking for it. These pockets of time were gifts.
In retrospect, that was not a healthy point of view (especially when you consider the 6-8-hour time shift between where I lived and where I landed…). Yes, I was very productive, and that felt good, but in reality, it meant I wasn’t prioritizing my own needs (starting with sleep – jet lag is real). Taking for time for yourself is a skill, one we are not necessarily taught how to do. Notice I didn't say asking for time - if you make it sound optional by asking, instead of telling yourself/someone else that you need time, you won't get it. Don't leave this up to the permission of others. It is up to each of us to empower this for ourselves, allowing us to meet our own needs in an environment where there are others with their own, sometimes competing, needs.
Regular time off helps you to reduce the health issues that come with over-work and over-commitment to work, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels. Essentially these are the factors that put you at risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Taking time away, including sustained vacation time (7-14 days) can make the difference in staying healthy the rest of the year and burning out your health, forcing you to take time off to recover.
Professionals who take a consistent time off, and really make it a break from work, have advantages over those who don’t. Over the course of a year their productivity will be more consistent than those who didn't give themselves a real break. Professionals who take time away from work also experience fewer dips and swings in their motivation, focus, energy and creativity throughout the year.
Stepping back, taking a complete break from work is key to reducing burnout risk because it keeps the tunnel vision at bay. Taking time away from work breaks both the "status-quo" and the hyper-focus on all the “to do’s”, the expectations, the deadlines… providing a perspective that nourishes all of you, not just the work you do.
When was the last time you took time just for you? Not for the kiddo’s, not to get errands done. Time to do something you wanted to do (not something you should or have to do)? It’s a healthy thing to plan for, taking time you’ve earned just for yourself; we plan for family vacations, but do you plan for an hour, or a day, of time for yourself? This doesn’t always mean taking time off work to do it, but if you have enough earned time, why not (that overtime isn't going to use itself)?
As it turns out, taking time for yourself also requires practice to break with the "status-quo" habit of doing the same routine everyday (which includes working). A past client of mine opted to take a day off each month in the summer, and just enjoy it. Sounds good right? What happened was she enjoyed a leisurely breakfast coffee…and then took a phone call and was on-line with work for the rest of the day. Or she would get anxious and decided to do some work in “stealth mode” (looking off-line but in reality, being connected to do work what was supposed to be a day off). Sometimes taking time for yourself has a learning curve. I know my own “me time” can easily get consumed with work, or family needs, if I don’t have an intention for that time (like pajamas and a good book).
Where are you in the "leaving work alone" learning curve? Can you, without guilting yourself, take an hour, an afternoon or a day and do things just for yourself that help you to re-charge and take a break from the hectic pace of work and life?
This is an important skill to cultivate, empowering you to put yourself first (even if just for a little while). Particularly now as we start the slow "good-bye" to summer and contemplate back to school and more ambitious work schedules, how do you hang on to your "summer glow" and stay connected to both yourself and your work in a meaningful way that lets what you do nourish you?
Work to live, not live to work.
Being coached by Carleen I cultivated the ability to have compassion for myself, and learned to better appreciate myself, as well as the others around me. I am so grateful for our time together."
One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients who work from home are the lack of boundaries between home and work. It’s an important topic as you consider how you want to work and live when we emerge from the pandemic.
It’s great to be able to work from your patio or deck (or the cottage) during the summer, but it also “pollutes” those spaces. Rather than getting the relaxation vibe at work, you may accidentally end up creating a work vibe in your relaxation space. Not cool.
You deserve to enjoy the beautiful spaces you’ve created in your home and life. Decks, patios, gardens, balconies, etc. all benefit from seasonal spruce-ups (if not redecorating… or am I the only one watching videos on how to design your outdoor living space...).
Being able to create these kinds of sanctuaries is one of the reasons you work so hard, but they are useless when you don’t have time to enjoy them. I LOVE sitting on my deck in the shade, hearing the wind rustling the leaves of the maples we planted with just this scenario in mind. Our back deck has been a labour of love, and now (many years later), it has changed from a barren sun-burnt lawn to an oasis of calm where I like to spend as much time as I can. But working from it? There is a fine line between living to work and working to live and my deck is the boundary.
So, how do you enjoy the benefits of working from home and keep your sanctuary too?
Here are some strategies to consider:
Of course, the best way to ensure working from home doesn’t become working for your employer for an extra10-40 hours a week …for free… is to set (and keep) regular office hours. It also helps to have a routine for leaving your work space that includes shutting it all down (or closing the door on it). Hearing audible notifications going off is the biggest cause of boundary bleed between work time and home time – the very definition of noise pollution!
You work hard for many reasons, having a lovely home environment is likely one of them. But, it’s no good to you if you can’t enjoy it. Working from home without boundaries can contribute to upsetting a space that was designed to give you sanctuary.
All of these tips can help you achieve something else that's beneficial... FLOW. That etherial feeling you get when work feels effortless and you are 100% aligned with what you're doing (and if that sounds like something you want more of, sign up for my workshop this fall where I unlock all the secrets to getting FLOW at work). Working from home has a lot of benefits, but it means you need to be a good guardian of your time, allowing you to enjoy work, FLOW and play.
Carleen has provided me with an excellent sounding board, practical tools tailored to my learning style and has helped me in working towards my personal development objectives as a leader in an organization facing change."
September is the time of year when our kids go back to school, schedules “normalize” and summer vacations are truly at an end. Schedules fill up and everyone braces for a more rigorous life schedule. As someone who has recently returned from a lovely long vacation I can attest to the pains of “real world re-entry”; it is never as easy as you think it will be. So here are some tips and considerations to make your re-entry back into the “real” world a little easier.
E-mail. If you haven’t looked at your in-box in a few weeks this is going to be ugly. In some cases coming back from vacation means you boot up your computer, try to remember all your passwords and then…wait. Wait for it all to load. Some people try to alleviate this concern by logging in the weekend before they are back. Don’t. Spend that weekend basking in the last rays of vacation bliss, get yourself organized to head back to work by planning meals, getting things prepared and re-committing to all those things you said you would do (or would stop doing, like working late) while you were in an objective state of mind on vacation.
Calendar. If you haven’t done so already then schedule time to triage work priorities during the first day you are back. Admittedly this is easier to put in your calendar before you leave on vacation. If you have meetings first thing in the morning of your first day back check to see if you can move them out by a day so you have time to get up-to-speed, frankly you’ll be more productive if you can take that bit of time. Seldom do we have the luxury of a day, but it is important to give yourself the time you need to get back into the game.
Body. While on vacation your body adjusted to eating when it wanted to (and likely what it wanted to) and will not be happy with the stricter schedule of meals upon return to work. Plan for this and bring snacks, at least for the first few days. It is no fun feeling overwhelmed by everything at work AND starving at 10:30 a.m. (you know, when “vacation you” usually had pancakes or omelets after sleeping in). You will also experience a level of sleep deprivation as you adjust to your work-based schedule, which for most of us means rising significantly earlier then we would while enjoying leisure time.
Mind. As you’ve read through this blog you may have nodded your head or taken note of a few things that resonated for you, and then you actually get back to work and it all quickly goes pear shaped despite your best intentions. If this happens (or if you are expecting this to happen) ask yourself if you were planning on helping others to understand how you can best help them? No one is going to walk into a meeting at 9:00 a.m. on his or her first day back and dazzle. Yes, the ebb and flow of work is relentless and will continue and of course you HAVE to go to that meeting…but what if that meeting had taken place while you were on vacation too? Work will always be relentless; the use of 4-8 work hours to allow you to re-immerse yourself in what is happening and become fully engaged in what is being asked of you is a reasonable request because it is in everyone’s best interests. So before it all gets nuts, decide how you want to go back.
Through our sessions and assigned coaching practices, I saw my confidence and ability grow ...I could accept new challenges, be open to continuous improvement, face uncertainty with curiosity and foster positive relationships for collaboration."
One of my past clients e-mailed me to let me know she had just closed a massive project at work, and she was really satisfied with the work she and her team had accomplished (her biggest project to date). I love it when my clients reach out to let me know how they are doing, it’s a privilege to be invited back into their lives as a trusted colleague. Ever the coach, I had a question: how she was going to celebrate?
Celebration is key to acknowledging that you did something meaningful. Things like team meals and spot awards are great ways to have others acknowledge you (and you acknowledge them), but it’s also important for you to acknowledge yourself when you have milestone accomplishments (especially since only you will ever know the magnitude of the accomplishment for yourself, as others don’t witness private struggle).
A few years ago, I had a really challenging year, and having worked very hard to embrace the chaos and push forward I hit a wonderful milestone. On vacation that summer I pick up a trinket that spoke to me; a tiny pewter sea urchin. Its little nubby spikes remind me to persevere because not everything that looks difficult on the surface is actually difficult in the end. It sits on my desk, and I’ve picked it up and held it so often its nubs have been burnished from dull pewter to light-catching sparkle. An everyday reminder that when I chose to stay with a problem, I bring new light to it.
My client is going into vacation in the best way possible, on the high spirits of a great accomplishment. Prompted by my question she’s thinking she may get herself something special as well; a new coffee mug. Not just any coffee mug, one that she falls in love with from an artisan pottery shop somewhere on her travels along the coast. One that will bring back great vacation memories AND remind her of her own unique awesomeness every time she holds it in her hands, feeling the warmth of both coffee and accomplishment.
We are worth this. Celebrations should continue into every day; never turn away from reminding yourself what you have accomplished. Let it sustain, and inform, your work going forward. What milestones and accomplishments do you acknowledge for yourself? How do you celebrate them every day?
As a result of time spent with Carleen, I now feel more equipped to deal with the day to day challenges working as a professional in the IT industry."
Around this time of the year I lose access to contentment – I get the “July blues”, it happens every summer. There is no reason for it, in fact the conditions in my life are never better than they are in summer to relax; my workload is lighter, the weather is often beautiful (always beautiful if you compare it to the weather mid-January in Canada). My family is happy and healthy, having fun summer adventures, and a vacation is right around the corner. So what gives?
I look for patterns and trends to “diagnose” my rut. There must be a problem somewhere in there that I can solve; these things don’t just happen for no reason (right?)! And that is what perpetuates my fugue…an attachment to there being a reason. Whether there is one or not is less important than my ability to be open to what is happening in the moment and letting that guide me into what is next. In other words, we cannot find our well-being and contentment in the same place where we lost it. Albert Einstein probably illuminated this best when he said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Ruts beget deeper ruts if all I focus on is “diagnosing what’s wrong”.
So what to do? Remembering that my contentment is always available to me, that it is a constant stream that threads throughout my whole life with perpetual access, is the key. It is the same for each of us. I often write about the difficulties of the human way of being, the struggles we each face to be our best, etc. Here there is a beautiful benefit to being human, for while we may often focus on the things that are not as we want them, the human way of being is a balanced equation. We may not always get what we want, but we always have access to what we need, as long as we are willing to get out of our own way to access it.
Getting out of my way meant not putting so much emphasis on striving to wring every last bit of gratitude and pleasure out of our very short summer season. To stop comparing my summer to the photos of other people’s summers. To recognize when I put conditions on my enjoyment, like having the “right” summer weather, everyone in a good mood, or a fun, new activity planned (with easy parking). To be better able to be in the moment, feeling the sunshine on my face, enjoying my garden, listening to the cicadas or tasting the rain. Counting the stars at night. Not eliminating my expectations, but recognizing when I have one and checking to see if it is serving my well-being in any meaningful way, and when it doesn’t, giving myself permission to let it go.
In a healthy life, peacefulness resides in each of us, but only if we have the courage to embrace it. Go on, run through your sprinkler, I’ll bet it’s been years since you’ve done that!
Carleen nudged me to change by contemplating and changing both my internal and external environments. I highly recommend working with Carleen."
Summer is in the air, the kids are out of school and workloads at most jobs are…well they are staying the same.
There used to be a time when summer meant that work slowed down (unless you were working in an industry that catered to summer). Today, there is often no change in pace or workload, and going on vacation means you will be treated to an exploding in-box your first day back in the office. The struggle to hold on to your post-vacation bliss is real. We can easily lose sight of this important season in the midst of being busy, completely missing the anticipation of summer that we loved so much as kids (the count-down to that last day of school…).
Particularly here in the northern hemisphere we need to maximize every drop of sunshine we get (blink and it will be winter once more). How we approach summer and our professional life is largely a matter of perspective and intent – there is room for you to both work and play in the few short months of summer we have, here are some ideas to let you do just that, enjoying all of what summer has to offer (actively stepping away from burnout and stress).
A very smart colleague of mine shifts her work habits for the summer by re-stacking her day. “Core hours at my place of work in the summer are 10-4, so that means I have to be meeting-ready for those hours, but only those hours.”. She rises at the usual time, getting ready for work, and then she takes her morning coffee and her laptop out to her sunny patio and starts her workday there.
Another colleague of mine is not so lucky, his place of employment’s core hours don’t change in the summer and are not flexible enough to allow him to work from home every day or for a portion of his morning, but he is also taking advantage of the best of what summer has to offer. “Working in the downtown core has some disadvantages, commuter traffic and long hours are part of the culture here, so it is easy to lose sight of the advantages it does have.” He likes to take his lunch-hour (all 60 minutes of it) and enjoy the fine weather, parks and free outdoor concerts that are close to his place of work.
We often struggle to squeeze a Friday or a Monday off of work (or just trying to leave a few hours early) fretting about the work not done because of our selfish desire to enjoy a bit more of the good weather. As long we continue to look at time off as “nice to have not need to have” we won’t enjoy the time away from work. Once you have made the decision to re-stack your day or to enjoy your full lunch beak (or leave work early), commit to it or you’ll receive no benefit from it. You need this - you're worth it.
Summer is a great time to build within you the capacity to take a meaningful break by putting your work down. Work will always be waiting for you when you get back, that isn’t going to change. Attend to how you treat yourself. Being compassionate and letting yourself enjoy all that this world has to offer you through simple acts of self-care, self-compassion and some childlike curiosity about what would happen if you went for a walk, feeling the sun warming your skin (instead of toiling away at your desk) has much to offer you. It may surprise you with what it has to offer your ingenuity and productivity too.
The other great advantage to creating these little pockets of summer for yourself in your workday is you will be much more able to enjoy your vacation, leaving your work phone and laptop at home and fully immersing yourself in free time and fun.
No one may be able to help you with (or change) the exploding in-box, but letting it ruin your vacation is a real travesty. Practice letting your work sit by finding ways to enjoy your whole summer and your vacation will have a bigger impact on your well being, allowing you to tackle that wily inbox with gusto and heart when you get back to the office (sporting your fabulous summer tan).
Plan to enjoy every last drop of your summer.
Through our sessions and assigned coaching practices, I saw my confidence and ability grow ...I could accept new challenges, be open to continuous improvement, face uncertainty with curiosity and foster positive relationships for collaboration."
Changing seasons can be a welcome invitation to change up our lives as well. Summer has landed and with it come shifts in the hours of daylight, work/meeting patterns and possibly your household schedule and “flow” with kids and vacationing family. We stay up later and see more of our friends; our life schedules may get fuller or less busy depending on what summer brings for you. Often it can be an easy transition with the support of warm sunshine and relaxed visits, but it can also sharply contrast with feeling like you are the only person ”stuck going to work” or who has to get to bed at a reasonable hour when everyone else seems free to do as they please. The time between now and when you are able to go on vacation may also stretch out, minutes may feel like hours as you count down to vacation, or you may feel panicked because you do not have the time you need to leave work in a “good place” while you are away. Summer can be a time of too many hours and not enough; push and pull, fun contrasted with obligations, hurry up and wait for time that evaporates far too quickly (that two-week vacation will be over in a heartbeat).
In part what keeps us from enjoying this natural change in life’s rhythm are our own patterns. It can feel very “heavy” to have to get up in the morning and go to work when your friends aren’t there because they’re away (and you are carrying their workload), or trying to get the kids off to a day-camp at the other end of the city, needing to work late to compensate for the later start. These are disruptions to our usual day and they can wear on us in ways we are not always aware of, until we start snapping at our loved ones or cutting people off as we get on the bus (or with our cars). Then we compound any feelings of guilt by telling ourselves we should be happier and in a good place because it is summer! Summer brings many great things, but there is also a flip side when we are feeling the pinch that comes with change (even temporary change).
So, what to do? Start with self-compassion; if you are feeling lonely and overwhelmed at work because you are minding things for others while they are off, give yourself a little treat.
If you are suffering from summer malaise think up one simple thing you can do to be kind to yourself and make it happen. You will find it gets you through the ups and downs that summer brings, allowing you to support yourself in this short season of change.
Carleen inspired me and helped spark the passion within myself to stretch beyond what at times I thought was possible."
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but LONG WEEKENDS ARE NOT THE SAME AS VACATIONS, even if you do have a whole summer of them lined up.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOVE long weekends, they are the best (and we have one coming up this weekend – WOOOO HOOOO!) But, after hearing the third person I’ve talked to recently say they weren’t taking a vacation but were planning long weekends all summer I have some food for thought:
Vacations let you live more in the moment, not focused on what has to happen next week or next quarter. That report you obsessed over last week is already stale-dating itself on a server somewhere and NO ONE CARES. Vacation allows you to get a better perspective through being more present with yourself. Stepping out of the day-to-day also leaves room for being stimulated in new and different ways. While on vacation, seeing the sights, or doing nothing, you’re using different parts of your brain, solving different problems, or not solving any problems at all (yes, the kids CAN have cake for breakfast… how is it really any different then waffles and syrup?).
It takes time for both your body and mind to adjust, to stand down and to trust that you’re not going to have to rev up again to meet the next unexpected challenge. It takes time to heal from sustain concentration that went on long after you passed the fatigue line to get something done (and how many times have you done that this year… un-huh, you need a real vacation). No way does that healing take place when you’re only giving yourself 3-4 days in a row before gearing up again. This is why most employment legislation guarantees 5-10 days of vacation, AND the right to take them consecutively. Sustained vacation time lets the adrenalin and cortisol subside, lets your heart rate truly slow. You can set your own schedule, sleeping in… napping! All of this does wonders to support your body in healing and restoring itself to its “factory settings”.
You’re also intentionally stepping away from mental stress – unplugging not just from your keyboard, but from the expectations of others. Leave the lap top at home. Do not say you’ll be at the meeting next week, in the middle of your vacation, telling yourself “It’s just for an hour”. It’s not “just an hour”, it’s about thoroughly letting go! Even if it is just the hour (good luck with that, the e-mail alone will have you saying “while I’m here…”), the cost to your physical and mental health of not staying in vacation mode is massive. Step away from the emotional roller coaster of meeting other people’s demands and needs. You do lots of things at work that aren’t necessarily a priority, or even something you enjoy doing. Vacation is the opposite of all of that; it’s about taking time for yourself, doing what you want, when you want and spending uninterrupted time with your loved ones.
And you need a sustained amount of time away from work to make the everyday recede, so you can see what it is you’re meant to be doing with your life with a clarity that almost hurts. To get a glimpse into your truth, that feeling where everything you hold sacred aligns: your values, your beliefs, your gifts. This window into your soul is so important, it helps you navigate your path, bringing into focus the deepest expression of what is meaningful to you so you can bring it into what you do for a living.
Vacations (real vacations, where you’re away from work for a week or longer) hold this window open, so you’re able to see the possibilities of your own deepest desires. So, you can see the choices you get to make, the ones that decide how you spend your one precious and beautiful life.
Carleen helped me shape a new perspective on life and made me realize that it’s okay to be happy, whatever that means to me.
We have an interesting relationship with failure (culturally speaking). In that most of us don’t. Have a relationship, that is.
No big surprise, this starts early; for most of us failure in school meant reprimands, increased homework or (in my case) tutoring (instead of getting to swim with my friends or watch “Video Hits” after school). Emotionally, failure creates shame, frustration and overwhelm – a cocktail that is the breeding ground for anxiety and emotional hiding.
We all learned when we were pretty young that failure was not a good thing AND it ripples out waves of heartache (via action and consequence). No surprise then that we don’t talk to each other about our biggest failures.
And that’s a missed opportunity.
Failure is inevitable and that’s what makes it an amazing ally on the path to success through learning and growth. We tend to think of success as this nirvana state, we think growth is when our minds are blown and new opportunities await. Success and growth can be all that, but that’s not the whole story. Do you remember lying in bed as a kid with growing pains pulsating through your legs? Physically and mentally, growing has an uncomfortable phase on the way to the good stuff. Once we’re done with the growing pains of youth our continued growth opportunities often come through failure (like it or not you’re human – it comes with the operating system).
And that’s why we need to talk about it more with each other. That’s’ why we need to give voice to failure not just as a… well, failing, but as a clear sign of the many ways we’re growing.
I’m not suggesting you begin examining all your failures; wallowing in the hot mess that is your “Hell no” closet of self-destructive memories. That’s not useful. I have another, gentler way in to strengthening your relationship with failure:
They had 15 or so of these examples and it was a brilliant way to reinforce the culture of learning and resilience (particularly in an industry that was, and is, ruthless).
While the business flamed out, the ideas they had went on to create success elsewhere, including that wall of examples that demonstrated how befriending failure, talking about it, normalizing it (making it a bigger than life-sized info-graphic) could not only foster success, but resilience and well-being.
These are the kinds of conversations we need to have about failure with each other (and with our kids… minus the wall-sized info-graphic). There’s a saying that goes “Never let a good crisis go to waste” (Rahm Emanuel, 2008), a tongue-in-cheek reference to finding a way to capitalize on misfortune. I want to borrow it here: “Never let a good failure go to waste”, within failure is the key to increased future success, but only if you’re willing to see what failure has to offer.
Failure is like falling into a hole. When you don’t give yourself the opportunity to climb out of that hole, a part of you is stuck there forever (emotionally speaking). But if you look at what happened as an opportunity to learn, you climb out of the failure hole. Even better, you master the ability to stay out of other similar failure holes because you completed the cycle of learning. Failure is but one stop in that cycle.
It's also the most important stop. When you learn something effortlessly, it doesn’t hold its value. Think of something you aced right from the start at work; it likely wasn’t memorable and you likely don’t go back to using it a lot because it doesn’t hold any challenge of growth opportunities for you. Now, think of something that put up more of a street-fight for you to master. You likely use that a lot more often, and feel a pinch of pride each time you do.
Let’s talk more often of how we failed and what that empowered you to do because you took the courageous step to learned from it. Let’s make failure a friend and ally, rather than a source of shame and fear. “If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.” (tinybuddha.com).
How much better does your work and career look to you when you normalize this every-day thing, and make failure a step to your success?
Working with Carleen influenced how I see myself in the working environment, and how I feel while doing my work."
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I believe in empowering others in many tangible ways. When I learn new career strategies or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website.