sent by Nick Grantham | 28th September 2021
I know that the context of this punchy quote by Gloria Steinem is around gender equality and inclusion, but it also reminds me of never giving up, never accepting no, and having the initiative to go after what you want in life. If there's no space available for you, make some. If no one asks your opinion, speak up anyway. If the answer is no, then find a yes. Know your worth, know what you can contribute, and don't let anything stop you.
Source: Shirley Chisholm
I heard this on a podcast while out running and it cut through my mind chatter like a knife. Failure is so often viewed negatively, perhaps because the experience feels shameful and embarrassing and we feel worthless and hopeless humans. Failure is perceived as something to hide, never talk about, and forget ever happened.
Failure also seems to be thought of as occurring with unplanned randomness - that it â€œjust happensâ€ sometimes when you're striving towards a goal - rather than knowing the potential pitfalls of the journey in advance. But when you think about it (and certainly when you experience it!), failure can provide so many lessons and learnings, that we're missing one of the biggest personal and professional growth curves if we don't delve into the details of why - why did it happen, what were the contributing factors, what were my/our actions that resulted in failure, what was our approach that didn't work out? Do the post-mortem.
For me, failing with intention and clarity speaks to strategy and execution, to pursuing a goal with purpose. It's about planning ahead, knowing exactly what actions will be taken, how, when and by whom, with what resources and in which context, and then if it does fail - you know exactly why. Regroup, chart a new course, and off you go again. Failing then becomes a constructive experience, rather than a shameful one.
I wish I knew that decades ago.
Curiosity takes us down rabbit holes we don't want to go down, and to places we don't want to go! Rumbling with our findings and wrestling our way back out to the light of day takes courage.
The truth is, we do rumble, as the legendary Brene Brown would say. Probably more than we even realise. We rumble, and we kick and scream and wrestle with and reject the answers that we uncover, because we personally don't like them and they don't sit with our own beliefs.
Whether it's the comment of a coach that contradicts our own understanding and ignites the curiosity to seek out answers - answers that challenge our philosophies and paradigms. Or whether it's reading to the bottom of a pile of literature on a specific topic and having to let go of our biases towards a specific outcome and accept the hard facts. Or - and my particular favourite - whether it's getting curious about our own emotional reactions and responses in friendships, relationships or at work, that are particularly painful and confronting to wrestle with. But ultimately, we have to be willing to rumble in the arena with our curiosity and what it digs up, if we want to grow and evolve as humans.
Source: Rising Strong by Brene Brown
I had so many quotes alluding to this sentiment that I had paralysis by analysis in trying to choose just one! But if there is one mantra I would live my life by (and which I do, because I tattooed it on my forearm!), it's this notion of continuous evolution and growth, of reinventing ourselves, and of being a constant work-in-progress. Life experiences shape us, and while the process of transformation is equal parts painful, tough, scary and overwhelming when we go through it, it's also hugely rewarding and exciting! And doubtless, worth it. So just like the flowing river, so too should we be in a constant state of flowing change, if we want to continue achieving aspirational goals and reaching levels of high performance. To accomplish at a higher level requires a different person with different skills and abilities. Staying still is going backwards, and stagnant waters don't facilitate growth. I feel there's a caveat here though, and it's one I wrestle with. That is, that in order to continually grow, evolve, and be a messy work-in-progress, we need to accept uncertainty and a healthy dose of chaos...and let go of perfectionism and control. It's like nails on a chalkboard for high-achievers to hear that, and so this will be the rumble for many of us on our path forwards.
Thanks for reading. You can get more insights from my popular email newsletter. Each week I share performance insights in my exclusive For the Win newsletter. Sign up with your email now and join us.Join Now