I was on Facebook last week and happened to see a headline that actor, Will Smith had some choice words for “The Donald”. I clicked on the headline and watched the video of his press conference in Dubai for Suicide Squad. When probed by a member of the Dubai press about the negative reviews of Suicide Squad he said the following:
” I feel like at this point in my career I’ve earned the right to fail. Right. So, I’m going to take shots and I’m not going to hit them all; because I’m going to be trying really wild, aggressive, creative things. Some of them will be critically-acclaimed, some of them will make money and some of them will be Wild, Wild West.”
It resonated with me, because it reminded me of my own journey and relationship with failure.
Perfection be damned!
We are the most imperfect-perfect society. Most people are so broken, so lost, still learning, still striving and yet we will do everything in our power not to appear to be an overall failure. It starts when we are young. We are coached, molded and forced to put on appearances whether at church, family functions and school. The messages we receive are that mistakes are okay, but don’t make too many of them. How does something as imperfect as a human rise to such a level of perfection?
We rise to the occasion as much as our spirits can take us and eventually we all fall short. It is in those moments of imperfection that we recognize that we are fighting an uphill battle. Those messages of “failing just enough, but not too much” feel inhumane; but still we have appearances to upkeep.
Why does failure feel so permanent?
The funny thing about failure is: It isn’t permanent at all. When I look back at my failures, there isn’t one that completely destroyed me. You couldn’t tell me that while I was going through it, but not one destroyed me.
I’ve been through a lot. Once you have overcome the fear of failure, you figure I got this. That is until your dreams and aspirations grow even larger in size. So, here I am again wanting to expand and reach for the stars and guess who is back to torture me – our frenemies, fear and failure.
To be honest, failure is uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like comfort food on a rainy day. It’s like the night you drank too much and prayed to get past it; while also promising never to get drunk again. In this way, much of how we approach failure has to do with mindset and approach.
Let’s explore why failure feels so permanent and what we can do to change it.
Reason 1) “If I fail, everyone will know I failed and judge me for it.” Oprah once said that every guest she had on her show from celebrities to the KKK had one thing in common- they wanted to be understood and seen for who they are. We all worry about others seeing us fail and the opinions and/or judgments that will follow. Particularly in this digital age where everyone is so visible; failure feels very public.
Newsflash: Time fades everything – especially memory. What you think people remember about your failures is very unlikely the case. No one person should have that much power over you and your climb to success.
Reason 2) ” I feel like everything is crashing down on me in this moment of failure.” I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the feeling of failure and how this exacerbates the whole experience. As humans, we generally set out to do something and in return we expect our efforts and intentions to yield the perfect outcome. When things don’t align in the way we imagined, we generally feel like nothing can ever be better again because of that failure. Depending on the magnitude of the failure, those feelings of sadness, guilt, pessimism can last for a long time.
Newsflash: It’s important to go through those emotions, but you can’t live there forever. It’s the whole “being tired of being sick and tired”. The woeful feelings get old. Ultimately, things do get better. It requires a change of perspective and working on your approach to failure.
Reason 3) “Failure is bad and in return what I set out to do was bad.” Let’s be clear most of us don’t know how to fail and recover from it. No matter how many times we try to re-frame “failure” it is still ingrained in us as something negative. Most of us want to be seen as a success. Until recently, success was the positive end of our efforts and failure was the negative outcome of our efforts. It sounds easy enough to say we should revise our definition of success to include a healthy helping of failure, but our prior conditioning doesn’t want us to be great.
Newsflash: Let’s not romanticize failure as if all failures are equal. There are failures that result in casualties and some that are rather benign by comparison. Sometimes it really is as bad as it feels. Still, there is a lesson to learn and a wrong to make right. The grit and strength you have to use to get there is what success looks like.
Like Will Smith, I feel like I have earned the right to fail. It is a revelation you have when you have spent much of your life trying to walk a straight line. Perfection doesn’t exist. While we are all out here trying to figure out our purposes and life missions – we might as well let the failures teach us and lead us to success.
Share your feelings about “failure” with me below.
Last week, I shared my thoughts on the importance of speaking up when things have gone horribly wrong in society. I also shared that I would be hosting my “Black Out Show” as my first Ask Czarina Live after vacation. What I didn’t realize was how much extra courage and strength I had to muster up to get through my show.
It’s one thing to tell yourself you are going to do something monumental. It is quite another thing to recognize your accountability to deliver a message and story that resonates in spite of the difficulty of the topic.
Prior to the show, I watched the videos of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile killings again. I watched the breaking news stories for the slain police officers and I immediately became emotional. I attempted to put on makeup to make myself appear as if I had it together, but the reality was I was a milli-second away from falling apart for everyone to see.
At the stroke of 10 pm, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I knew that I was speaking for more than just myself which pushed me beyond my very palpable fear. I remembered those two little girls pictured above and recognized the duty I have as their mother and as a woman to show them that nothing should prevent them from being fully seen, appreciated and heard in this world.
I want my daughters to know that raising your voice when others find it easier to be quiet takes courage. I am showing them through my own actions that speaking the truth in a time when it is preferential to lie takes strength. In the end, I hope they will see that business should not only be profitable, but socially responsible.
An hour and nine minutes later, I felt lighter and proud that I delivered on my promise. My viewers kept up their end of the bargain as they listened without starting any arguments, fights etc. All of this proving that we can have civil discussions around race issues and politics, if we first are willing to listen more than we speak. It also illustrated that we all can speak up without it being disastrous for our reputations and businesses.
As a friend of mine shared, you can’t go wrong when your words are from your heart and they are delivered with poise and professionalism.
In case you missed the show live, I am making sure to share it with my readers here. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to share your feedback on the show. It really makes me feel good to know, I made a difference by using my voice and platform.
Three years ago, I was a part of a small social media team that was covering the NY Business Expo Summit in New York City. After several hours of busily typing soundbites of some of the brightest minds in Social Media, I sauntered to the nearest lavatory where I was approached by Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D of Work Like a Mother®. She was fascinated with the speed at which I was typing and covering the event and asked me if I could help her hone her skills.
Not too long after the event we met in a Panera Bread in New York City to discuss the possibility of working with one another. As we were sharing our backgrounds and journeys as mothers, we realized we both had a passion for seeing women thrive. We spent most of our time talking about what we might be able to accomplish together someday. These lofty wishes were wrapped up in us being able to provide programs, events, and workshops that could assist women who have lost their way with a way to become relevant again through unique learning opportunities- an academy of sorts.
Some three years later, I am happy to say that academy was launched in 2015 as the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training. I came aboard as a social media and personal branding instructor. In 2016, we are collaborating in a more formal fashion to create new programming and provide the next iteration of the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training.
Our first collaboration is a program that was one of my proudest achievements for 2015- my Talent Think Social Circle Virtual Mentorship Teleclass ™. I launched this program with an idea, shoestring budget and blind faith from October through December of 2015 following the conclusion of the academy and it was a success.
Class “Usie” after my Art of Personal Branding and Social Media Workshop.
With the interest and support of Work Like a Mother®, my program has an extended lifeline and has grown into a multi-level program serving two separate needs for the women we serve:
1) Some women just want to re-enter the workforce. As such, their primary interest is in enhancing their skills and building the confidence needed to become a marketable candidate in an ever-difficult and selective job market.
2) In complete contrast to the previous example, there are women who have ideas for businesses they want to launch and need a place where they can incubate and grow those ideas into businesses. They too require some up-skilling and coaching to get there and we want to serve that need as well.
Who better to nurture women who have either of these needs than two mothers/business women that understand and empathize with their journeys. Corporate America isn’t checking for them and certainly hasn’t made much progress in ensuring the career mobility and flexibility of women, so we are tackling it in the only way we know- through education and coaching.
Work Like a Mother Open House (1.15.16)
You may be thinking what does this have to do with Human Resources?
On the surface, probably not anything. Let’s dive a little deeper though. When I worked in HR, I recognized that people could skip along all day creating policies and procedures without any care or concern for how it impacts the workforce. We were keeping the organization compliant and that is necessary. However, I often wondered if things would be different if Human Resources could function in a truly altruistic manner. My HR buddy, Dave Ryan shared something rather profound in a recent blog post. The post titled: “A Utopian Workplace”drove home an important consideration which is: “it is hard for HR to create a utopian society in the way everyone expects when society has yet to right certain human wrongs. I have to agree and I believe one of the things we have screwed up left and right is how women are regarded and treated in the workplace. More disturbingly is how women who choose to become mothers are often displaced and forgotten. While my collaboration has really nothing to do with HR directly, indirectly Hilary and I are attempting to triage the ills of society from the outside-in-with the hope that these women can thrive and succeed in the way that is most meaningful for them.
If you are interested in learning more about our programs, go to: http://worklikeamother.com/Mentorship.html. In addition, if you are interested in featuring us on your blog, publication, podcast etc. to discuss our work we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you.
Here’s a little more insight on Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.d and Work Like a Mother® worth knowing:
Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D. is the founder of Work Like a Mother® and is a Career Counselor and Board Certified Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor who earned her Doctoral Degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College. With office locations in Fairfield County Connecticut, Dr. Berger has pioneered a solution oriented career counseling system designed exclusively for educated mothers at home raising their families. She has counseled women in transition both in university settings and in private practice for over twenty years. Work Like a Mother®, a thriving and dynamic community for mothers, is a one stop shop for mothers rebuilding their professional relevance and marketability during and after their parenting years.
I am coming at you from IBM Insight in Las Vegas. I promise you I will be back to churning out more than just Ask Czarina Live posts soon, but I am on the move a lot this month. Before I proceed, I want to thank everyone who joined me last week. It was great to have you and I am inviting you to join me this week and bring a friend.
Which brings me to our topic for this week’s Ask Czarina Live. This week’s topic is: The State of Working Parenthood.
I won’t spoil what I will share this Thursday, but I had a lot of hustling to do to be able to not only make it to Vegas for IBM Insight, but to be able to go to my speaking gig later in the week.
As a business owner, professional and mom of 3 who also happens to be in the midst of picking up steam as a speaker- my travel is picking up and responsibilities at home remain the same. I know all about the opportunities in front of me and I know what I stand to gain. At the same time, I am forever calculating the risks and cons to what I do. As such, I am calling all working parents and that includes stay-at-home moms and dads. I’ll explore the following:
Why I stopped making a distinction between these two groups of parents even though society continues to drive a hard line.
Whether it is easier now or in past generations to be a parent.
What I do to release present day parenting pressures making life bearable for everyone involved.
Is work-life balance attainable?
Is the request for “more flexibility” new or are we in a time and place where it is more accepted?
In addition, I will be exploring a few articles that summarize the state of working parenthood. Here are the links to the articles, should you be interested in checking them out in advance:
Join me on Thursday at 11pm EST/10pm CST/8pm PST for my second “Ask Czarina Live”. Last week I promised you that I would be posting the replays of “Ask Czarina Live” to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel for those of you not ready to take the Periscope plunge. Unfortunately, Periscope has a bug that is preventing my broadcasts from properly being saved in my gallery, so I am currently unable to share my shows in both places. They are working on it and I will let you know when I am able to do it. For now, you can continue to view replays on Periscope, within the 24-hour window allotted,
As usual it will be fun, fresh, and insightful. I look forward to seeing you there.
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