Embracing Failure as an Option

By Go-getter Jessi Behrendsen

Failure and success aren’t mutually exclusive. We all fail and succeed every day. Multiple times a day, actually. Approaching risk and choosing paths are too often met with thoughts of failure, instead of looking at them from the perspective of logic. Whether you’re choosing a grad school that you feel is out of your league or you’re itching to try a new career, it’s so easy to take the path you’re comfortable with out of fear that something different won’t work out. 

What if instead, we looked at taking these risks with the mindset of we definitely are going to fail — but, we’re undoubtedly also going to succeed? And what if we also remember we’re not alone in either outcome? 

Go-getter Jessi Behrendsen suggests adopting this mindset to overcome fears of taking on new challenges.

Very recently I had to put this strategy to the test. I’m here to tell you that, like most worthwhile and significant things, using that new mindset was easier said than done. Had it not been for the right words from a friend and colleague at the exact right time, I might not have made the decision I did to choose a new path. 

A few months ago, I was working in a job I really loved when I was presented with an opportunity for a step forward in my career. The catch: I would have to move to another company. The position came with a lot of exciting but terrifying prospects. I would be defining and leading a specific area of the business, and everyone right up to the CEO would be looking to me for expertise. 

We’ve all heard the phrase “imposter syndrome.” I was HEAVY with it. I had been at my current job for nearly six years, and had experienced more growth, both professionally and personally, than in any other period of my life. I knew the people on my team and what was expected of me. Branching out to a new place and into a role with more responsibility was somewhat terrifying. And exhilarating.

I was well aware I still had (and have) mountains of things to learn, but after my interview for the new job, I found myself really excited at the prospect of leaving where I was comfortable and striking out into new territory. It felt right. But, I was also filled with self-doubt.

My head was full of the usual banter: What if I make a mistake? What if the gaps in my knowledge are too great to overcome? What if I flat out fail? 

As I was leaving the interview (and conversing with the negative part of my psyche), I passed the company’s president whom I have known for many years and trust and respect. I asked her point blank, “Do you think I can do this?”

She swiftly replied with, “Yes. You can do this. Anything you can’t, we’ll figure it out as a team.” 

WE’LL FIGURE IT OUT AS A TEAM. Talk about the right words at the right time. I took the job. 

I’m happy to report the new venture turned out as expected. I have had days of failure and days of success, and days where it goes back and forth between the two. But I figure if neither are happening, then that’s bad. Whenever anything is being built, that’s how it goes. 

Jessi found confidence by embracing failure.

Failure means I tried at something. And that means I can figure out what didn’t work, and then I can adjust and keep going. I would even say that the best lessons come from the failures rather than the immediate successes.

More importantly, I have the support from my team that it’s OK to learn and grow. They understand that failures and missteps will happen and that it’s what you do in response that makes the world of difference. 

So, if that little voice in your head telling you this new thing is something you want to try, even if you might fail, try altering your mindset. You WILL fail. But maybe that’s just what you need to learn and grow…and succeed. 

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