The Key Skill You'll Need Time and Time Again to Achieve Career Success

Making a career transition, applying for a new job, attending a networking event, interviewing, speaking up in meetings, asking for a raise…all these various tasks (and many others) involved in progressing our careers forward require us to be vulnerable. And when we’re vulnerable, we open ourselves up to failure.

The fear of failure alone makes many of us avoid dreaming big, taking action, or making a change at all.

HOW DO WE FACE THE FEAR, TAKE A RISK, AND GET BACK UP WHEN THINGS DON’T WORK OUT THE WAY WE HOPED? we build resiliency.

If you’ve read many of my posts before, you probably know I’m a big Brené Brown fan. Brown explains that if we get vulnerable and dare greatly, we will likely fall down at some point. To get back up, we must experience what she dubs “the reckoning, the rumble, the revolution.”

Since reading Brown's book Rising Strong last summer, I’ve experienced plenty of those face-down-in-the-arena moments that she talks about in her work…more than I’d like to admit. And in trying to guide myself through this resiliency-building process that Brown outlines, I realized: I had to go through it in order to be able to coach others through it, too. So here’s my process, similar but also a bit different than Brown’s:

1. GO FOR IT

Take the risk, try something new, put yourself out there. Speak up, apply for the job, take a new class, meet someone new, tackle a new skill, try an experimental project. You get the idea!

2. FACE A CHALLENGE

Chances are as you go for it, whatever “it” may be, you’ll face some sort of adversity, stress, or challenge. Hang in there and don’t bail out just yet.

3. FEEL & SHARE YOUR FEELINGS

Recognize that the challenge is hard. Check in with yourself: How are you feeling? What emotions are coming up for you? This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how difficult this actually is. For example, reacting to a situation by saying “I don’t ever want to talk to him/her again!” is not an emotion. What’s the emotion behind that? It could be anger, fear, pride, etc. Share these feelings with someone else, too. Sharing dissipates shame, as you begin to realize you are not alone in these feelings.

4. REFLECT

Look back on the experience and ask yourself what you can learn from it. Take a look at what Brown refers to as your “SFD” to challenge your original assumptions and beliefs to create a more truthful, objective story. What could you do differently moving forward? What’s more important than making a mistake or experiencing a failure is what you learned from the experience. Trust me, this is what employers expect to hear when they ask you about mistakes or weaknesses in an interview.

5. GROW

Incorporate your learnings into your life and move forward. How do you show up in the world, and how does what you learned change your thoughts and behaviors? Know that you most certainly will face another challenge again, and this particular challenge has given you insight and strength to change the way you live, lead, communicate, and face future challenges.

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To give credit where credit is due, this framework is an adaption not only of Brené Brown’s work, but also of another model created by my friends who administer The Resilience Project at Stanford. Give it a go for yourself and let me know what you learn from being resilient!