Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Thrive at Work

Everyone’s put together a resume at some point. It compiles your experience, accolades, and awards. It shines a light on your main accomplishments. A resume is made to make you look good. So, why on earth would you consider putting together a “failure resume”??

I first learned about failure resumes from acclaimed author, Daniel Pink. This concept, created and articulated by Stanford professor Tina Seelig, can help us deal with disappointments, contextualize failures, and move forward in a positive way.

What is a failure resume and how does it work?

A failure resume is an ongoing list of the things you got WRONG. It’s your mess-ups, flubs, and things that went south. A failure resume is meant for YOU and your personal development, and is not something you would necessarily share with others (unless you want to!).

You can treat your failure resume like a journal at first, compiling your list of screw-ups in one spot. But it is not just a list. It’s a tool.

How do you use it?

After creating your failure resume, it’s important to go through the list and think about each item. Ask yourself what happened in each instance. Why did the failure occur? What might have prevented it? And, mostly importantly, what lessons can you glean from the failure?

Sometimes, a failure can be caused by unfortunate circumstances or happenstance, but oftentimes something could have prevented the failure. Spend time reflecting on this. Do you notice any patterns? Do your failures usually occur because of one or two things you are doing consistently?

Perhaps you are constantly overstretching or overcommitting yourself, thus failing to do your best work.

Or maybe you are not properly preparing for certain situations (meetings, presentations, etc.) and need to focus more on that.

Or, perhaps, your main issues are caused by communication—failure to clearly communicate a message, follow-up, communicate with the right people, etc.

By taking time to think about the “why” behind the failure, you can start making positive changes. And, hopefully, your failure resume will seem less discouraging and more empowering.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

Her new eBook is called A Quick Guide to Courage
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

Tags: , , , , ,

I just released my new eBook: A Quick Guide to Courage. Let’s continue our discussion of aspects of courage…

It’s easy to fall in line and do/say/think what everyone else is doing/saying/thinking. If you’re like most people, you don’t want to rock the boat; you simply want to get through the work day, complete your daily tasks, and stay employed! While there’s nothing wrong with those goals, “falling into line” could become problematic if you disagree with something or encounter a situation that goes against your values, ethics, or perspective.

In these tricky situations, staying silent is the path of least resistance, BUT it is not always the best route. Why dare to speak up and go against the grain?

  • To uphold your personal code of ethics
  • To encourage others who are feeling the same way to also speak out
  • To share your perspective
  • To spark a dialogue
  • To encourage candid communication and cooperation

Speaking up can be a good thing, but it can backfire if done incorrectly. If you are not tactful, or if you speak out of turn, you might be instantly shutdown and silenced. Instead, approach a situation with respect, calm, and thoughtful language.

Here are a few tips:

  • If you need to speak up during a meeting or group gathering, either wait for a lull in the conversation or interject respectfully.
  • Begin by clarifying what you think you heard. For instance: “I believe you said XYZ, is that correct?”
  • Give your perspective using “I statements” and logic. For instance: “Let me explain why I am troubled by XYZ. From my perspective…”
  • Offer alternatives. If you have a different course of action in mind, state it as clearly as you can.
  • Invite conversation. For instance: “Clearly, this is my take on the matter. If I am missing or misunderstanding something, I welcome any clarification.”

If you have time to step away from the situation and think about your counterarguments, that’s great! Prepare your talking points, anticipate questions, and present your case (either in a one-on-one meeting or to your group). The same basic guidelines apply—asking clarifying questions, being respectful, using logic, inviting dialogue—but you also have the luxury of gathering evidence (if applicable) and drawing up a more comprehensive counterargument.

It is often uncomfortable to go against the grain, but it is often worth it. If you present yourself and your case with tact and reason, people will likely listen to and consider what you have to say. Tap into your reserves of courage, prepare as best you can, and remember that YOU and your perspectives are worthwhile (see the affirmations in last week’s blog post). Positive workplace environments are often built by the courage of individuals.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

Her new eBook is called A Quick Guide to Courage
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

Tags: , , , , ,

3 rocks stacked in rings of sand

Almost everyone experiences periods of heightened anxiety or frustration. Those periods might last a few minutes, or they could endure much longer. If you’re dealing with a situation that is causing increased stress, it’s never a good idea to ignore your feelings and hope that everything will get better. Instead, focus on ways to reduce your personal stress AND remove or diminish the sources of stress.

NOTE: If you’re experiencing long-term or severe anxiety, it’s best to seek help from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. Your mental health is important and can affect nearly every aspect of your life.

So, how do you deal with short-term stress or anxiety? Here are 4 methods to try.

1. Practice a breathing technique

Breathing with intention is a great way to create a sense of calm and ease tension. You could practice yoga-style breathing, where you inhale deeply while focusing on expanding your lungs and belly, and then release your breath and let your diaphragm contract. Or, you could practice something neuroscientist Andrew Huberman calls a “physiological sigh.” Essentially, you inhale through your nose and hold your breath for a few seconds. Then, inhale again before releasing it and hold for a few more seconds. After that, exhale through your mouth in one strong puff. Learn how this breathing technique helps you in Dr. Huberman’s short video.

2. Remove yourself from the situation

Sometimes, the easiest and most effective way to calm your nerves is to remove yourself from the anxiety-inducing situation. That might mean excusing yourself from a team meeting or Zoom call, or stepping away from your laptop for a few minutes. Giving yourself distance can help you to collect your thoughts, take a few deep breaths, and plan how you’ll proceed.

3. Identify sources of stress

Is there something in your life that is repeatedly causing you stress? Maybe you’re involved in too many committees or volunteer groups. Maybe you tend to agree to projects, even when your plate is full. Or, perhaps, your source of stress is a person—a boss or co-worker who tends to email you at odd hours, overload your agenda with work, or make poor decisions for the company or your work team.

Whatever the case, it’s useful to trace back your stress to the source(s). Once you have a clear idea of what’s causing most of the tension in your work life, you can take steps to change it.

4. Set healthy boundaries

One way to take charge of your stressors is to set healthy boundaries. Set parameters for when and how often you’ll answer emails, phone calls, or virtual chat requests. Say “no” to projects when you have too much on your plate or when projects are not a good fit (click the link for 10 effective ways to say no). If someone is causing you undue stress, have the courage to meet with that person and communicate your frustrations. Be tactful and make suggestions on how to improve the situation.

You can take charge of workplace stress. Take time to consider your stressors, create a plan, and act! And when life gets frustrating, don’t be afraid to dismiss yourself from the situation, breath, go for a walk, or even read a few pages in a book—whatever it takes to reduce your stress and calm your nerves. Work should not be a place of constant stress.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: