September 14, 2020
Failures and Fuck-Ups
Everyone likes to talk about BRAND. Personal Brand. Value Statements. The answers to the question: What are your unique gifts and qualities? You need to know this so you can stand out from the rest of the crowd.
In the corporate world, it’s beaten into you. Likely in other industries too. After hundreds of drafts of my resume and bios and other ‘snippets’ that try to capture the above, here is what I know for sure:
- I am better in person than on paper
- I am not for everyone
My official resume, while chock full of wonderful accomplishments – dollars saved, efficiencies gained and morale improved – it is, ultimately, boring as fuck.
But it is what gets me the interview. The interview is where I hook ‘em.
The interview is where I get to tell my story. And the real story – my story – is found in the mistakes made, the near misses and the fuck ups that I don’t put on my CV.
Sometimes, despite all those ‘accomplishments’, it is still not enough to land the interview.
I once interviewed for a job only because someone called a member of the panel and said “You’ve GOT to meet this woman. What’s the harm?”
It was the last slot of the day. The panel was visibly tired. I was visibly nervous.
And it was all going fine. Pretty vanilla. Until they asked me this question: “Can you tell us about a time when you have successfully engaged & improved the employee experience through a period of change?”
Classic behavioural question. Looking for specific examples of past performance and experiences to indicate future performance and competence.
I could have told them any story. I had a few. But the story that I needed to tell – the one I learned the most from – was not the one that you would think to tell in an interview.
At least not in an interview where you wanted to get the job.
I took a deep breath and said: “No. But I can tell you about a time I tried to do that, royally screwed it up and now know exactly what not to do.”
They all leaned in. The woman on the left smirked. The one in the middle said “Tell us about that time…” And in that moment of risk and vulnerability and honesty, they told me later, with that answer I got the job.
Best job I’ve ever had in the organization and I’ve had a lot of cool ones. But that was my favourite.
It doesn’t always work out that way – I don’t always hook ‘em.
Late last year I had a call from a recruiter looking to fill a role on their leadership team.
It was a small company, family founded business, and the role would be reporting to the CEO. During our discussions she felt I would be the right kind of fit and the fresh perspective and energy that the team needed. We spoke for an hour and she loved me.
It would all come down to fit with the boss.
And given it was an exploratory and I already had a lovely job for a great organization, there was literally no risk in it for me. Exploring options is always a good idea, so it was a no brainer.
And guess what? He hated me.
And even though I know getting told no is part of the territory, that doesn’t make it any easier. It is hard to be rejected or passed over or feel second (or third or fourth or fifth) best.
I think it’s even harder to try to be something or someone you’re not.
I am not for everyone. Neither are you. That’s okay.
Remembering this and reminding myself of this is important. Because two weeks before I interviewed and slayed and got my favourite job, I got told no for a job that I was basically a lock for.
That no enabled the yes that led to me taking on a role I loved.
Whether it is for a job or a speaking engagement, I am going to get told no. I am going to have meetings where they are looking for a speaker with credentials or experiences that I don’t have. I am going to write articles that don’t land. I am going to get feedback – sometimes brutal – on materials & presentations because it’s just not good enough. Yet.
I know that. And I know I need to be okay with that…but I’m not.
It feels bad. It makes my stomach hurt and triggers all my ‘good-girl’ instincts to shout “I promise to do better! Please keep loving me!!” and I don’t like it.
But I am going to keep trying.
I am going to keep writing and submitting articles even if I never hear from anyone ever again. I’m going to keep taking on speaking engagements and doing what I do best and KNOW that there will be feedback saying I am not enough X or too much Y.
I am wired – like many of us are – to seek validation. Approval. Acceptance. Validation. I can’t change that.
But I can work on accepting that I won’t get that from everyone.
Because no matter how good I am in person, and I am, I am not for everyone.