The fourth day was spent discussing “learning to rise.” Failure is inevitable when we’re courageous and vulnerable and try new things; how do we systematically approach failure and recovery from it? As in, how can we perform a history, physical exam, assessment, and plan for failure? The day was facilitated with 5 questions.
1. Do you have a strategic and operational plan for failure?
Several people shared their systematic approach to failure. Common themes were advanced preparation (having a script in mind), modeling appropriate behavior (including self-care!), and reflective practice. An critical step was swiftly acknowledging and moving past the “shitty first drafts” and “stories we tell ourselves,” and on to better and brighter things.
2. What is your preferred offloading phenotype when you’re emotionally hooked (history)?
Offlloading (a.k.a. avoidance) strategies that were discussed included Chanderliering, Bouncing Hurt, Numbing Hurt, Stockpiling Hurt, The Umbridge, and Hurt and the Fear of High Centering. The majority of participants had a context-dependent variety of offloading mechanisms, although Numbing was the most common by far (distracting ourselves with fun stuff or, more commonly, more and more work until we don’t feel our pain). We talked about obtaining “Stumbling Mentors,” or “Failure Friends”– people we trust who will help us confront our emotions and grow from failure.
3. What kind of stories do you tell yourself when in failure mode (physical examination)?
A very common theme was telling ourselves that we’re not good enough and never will be– embodiment of “imposter syndrome.” We even took an Imposter Syndrome Scoring quiz (see Suggested Resources) and compared results.
4. How do you get more information about the situation, people, and yourself when in failure mode (assessment)?
We talked about conceptualizing the problem utilizing the Drama Triangle and directly asking stakeholders for more information– “approaching discomfort with inquiry.” With more information, we could switch from “‘What the F&*#?’ to ‘what’s their frame?.’” Two common techniques discussed to openly engage with others include “the story I am telling myself is…” and “let me circle back with you on…” For getting information about ourselves, we discussed and reinforced the importance of a good therapist/mental health professional in coping with the immense stress of our jobs; we need to normalize this in our field!
5. How do you approach stories that decrease your lovability? Your belief system? Your creativity? (plan)
Balance/mindfulness (and getting outdoors) was a common way to reinvigorate our lovability and creativity after failure, as was interacting with those who depend on us, whether as a parent or as a mentor– anything to get us out of our heads and back into the world.