How to Learn to Pivot through Failure


I am reading Kristen Hadeed's book, Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing Everything Wrong.  This book has really helped me reflect the last week on how I've developed my own leadership skills through various failures.

As a child growing up, I have always been a perfectionist.  I had to get perfect grades, and excel in everything I set up for myself as a task.  My first failure hit me hard senior year of high school when I was denied admission to the music school I wanted to attend, to become a concert flutist.  I was devastated.

I entered college my freshman year undecided with the hopes that I could re-audition in the spring for fall entry into the music program.  I studied flute with a doctoral student in the hopes to get better.  In the spring, I auditioned again, and again, another denial.

This was also the time I met my mentor, who brought me in to the field of behavior analysis.  Once I experienced the second failure, I pivoted and focused my attention on becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst after support and discussion with my mentor (who was also a classically trained musician, and worked on that skill on the side).  Looking back at this time, I felt like it was the biggest failure, and I would never succeed in life.  What it really taught me was when we come up against challenges, we need to learn to pivot our direction (much like hiking when you come to a block in the path, or a cliff, you must pivot your direction around or away from it), so that we do not drown in our failures.  This lesson has come up for me time and time again throughout my practice and development as a leader in the field.

Pivoting is important because it helps us to re-focus our energy on a new project, or new skill to develop.  At this stage in my development, I don't look at failures as failures, but rather as "triggers" to pivot to a new idea or project.  

Want to hear more about my story?  Here’s a podcast I did with Coaching for Leaders host, Dave Stachowiak!

Have your own "failure" experience to share?  Leave a comment below!

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