We’ve all had a failure at work. It is inevitable, so the most productive thing you can do is to have a set of tools to draw from when you are faced with the fall-out, which we will outline here:
Look at the failure as a learning opportunity
Although it doesn’t take the failure away, if you can reframe it in your mind, you can more easily move past it.
What did you learn from this failure that you can benefit from in the future?
Look at what behaviors DID succeed
Identifying what behaviors worked within the failure can help point you to areas of strength.
Understanding the areas where you are strong will help reinforce those behaviors in the future.
Don’t feel like you have to be good at everything
Failure may be an indication that you need to move on to something else. Is this area something you really need to succeed at?
Put the failure into perspective
Think about failures from the past. With hindsight, are they as bad as you thought they were at the time?
Rank the failure from 0 to 100 where 100 is nuclear holocaust.
Remember that other people are caught up in their own lives
Worrying about what others think about your failure is usually a waste of time because other people probably don’t even notice what you’ve done.
Those that do are likely close to you. In that case, project the failure onto them. What you your reaction be if they had been the one who failed?
What can you do to create a positive outcome?
Recognizing the type of worrying you are doing can help you get out of the worry loop by understanding what steps you can take. In this episode, we cover some common types of worry and how you can tackle them:
When you find yourself worried about what someone else is thinking, you are mind reading. To fight this worry, you need to find the thing that you can control.
For example, you think Henry doesn’t like you. You don’t know this for sure because you can’t read Henry’s mind. So, what can you do? You can ask Henry if he doesn’t like you. If you aren’t willing to do that, you can decide that there is nothing you can do to change Henry’s mind and move on with your life.
Focus on what you can control.
When you are worried about what the future might bring, you are fortune telling. There is no way that you can know what the future might bring because you aren’t a fortune teller.
For example, you might worry that your company is going to have layoffs and you are going to lose your job and end up homeless.
Not only do we worry about the future, we usually expect the future to bring the worst possible outcome.
Cognitive Distortion— people have a tendency to worry about a future that is bleak.
Ask yourself how probable the outcome is. Think about the chain of events that would have to be true for the outcome to occur. In our example, first, your company would have to have layoffs. Next, you would have to be on the list of people who are being let go. That means that you have to either be a poor performer, or in a role that is no longer necessary. Then, you’d have to be unable to get another job. And you’d have to run out of money. And you’d have to have nobody else to go to. And, and, and.
Once you see that the probability is a tiny fraction, you can stop worrying about it.
Worry about all of the things that you should have done. This means that you aren’t accepting the present as it currently is.
For example, maybe you catch yourself worrying that you should have been promoted by now.
Recognize reality as the place you have to start from. Then, determine what changes you need to make to get where you want to be.
What action can you take to move yourself toward promotion?
Worrying about ‘What If’ scenarios that will never have a satisfactory answer.
What if I have cancer? You can get tested and still not trust the results.
Identify the best possible, most likely, and worst possible outcomes. Then answer each one. What would be the next steps for each?
For more types of worry, sign up for our newsletter.
Also, learn about productive worry in this episode of People Move Organizations.
Being out of balance causes a situation where you are over-emphasizing the pros and cons of one behavior and under-emphasizing the pros and cons of another behavior.
Analytical vs. Intuitive
If you are too reliant on analysis to make decision, you can get into a state of paralysis where you don’t make decisions or move forward because you will always want more data before making a decision.
If you are too reliant on your gut to make decisions, you might make quick decisions without any facts and find that you fail more often than necessary.
Being analytical isn’t bad and being intuitive isn’t bad—as long as you have balance. The important thing is to understand what your tendency is and to learn techniques to help you balance your tendency. If you are over-analytical, learn to recognize when you’ve gotten to a point of paralysis and force yourself to make a decision. If you tend to go with your gut, set some parameters about a minimum amount of analysis that you’ll accept for yourself before making a decision.
How balanced are you? Rate yourself along these spectrums. Are there any that you need to become more balanced in?
Goals are a unique combination of:
Tactics—what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
Aspiration— what can I accomplish if I put my mind to it?
Faith— I believe that I can accomplish this goal.
Commitment - I’m going to dedicate part of my resources to making this goal happen.
Setting goals require an ability to balance the need to be realistic while also reaching for something you aren’t quite sure how to get to – something that isn’t within your current comfort zone.
Then, once you’ve set that goal – you need to stop focusing on it. Focusing on the goal – on the end state will not propel you from here to there. Instead, you need to start to identify the steps that you are going to take to get you there. What is the next step you can take to move you toward your goal?
There are also some tools that you can use to help you keep on track:
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