Mollie Hemingway has written a blockbuster book about all the strands of deception and falsehoods that converged to take down Donald Trump on Nov. 3 and 4 and beyond (and before) in her book: Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech and the Democrat…
The possibility of failure is always daunting, but with the right preparation and approach, you can push on and succeed.
- Susan Peppercorn
- Susan Peppercorn
A client (who I’ll call “Alex”) asked me to help him prepare to interview for a CEO role with a start-up. It was the first time he had interviewed for the C-level, and when we met, he was visibly agitated. I asked what was wrong, and he explained that he felt “paralyzed” by his fear of failing at the high-stakes meeting.
Digging deeper, I discovered that Alex’s concern about the quality of his performance stemmed from a “setback” he had experienced and internalized while working at his previous company. As I listened to him describe the situation, it became clear that the failure was related to his company and outside industry factors, rather than to any misstep on his part. Despite that fact, Alex could not shake the perception that he himself had not succeeded, even though there was nothing he could have logically done to anticipate or change this outcome.
People are quick to blame themselves for failure, and companies hedge against it even if they pay lip service to the noble concept of trial and error. What can you do if you, like Alex, want to face your fear of screwing up and push beyond it to success? Here are four steps you can take:
Redefine failure. Behind many fears is worry about doing something wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — in other words, fear of failure. By framing a situation you’re dreading differently before you attempt it, you may be able to avoid some stress and anxiety.
Let’s go back to Alex as an example of how to execute this. As he thought about his interview, he realized that his initial bar for failing the task — “not being hired for the position” — was perhaps too high given that he’d never been a CEO and had never previously tried for that top job. Even if his interview went flawlessly, other factors might influence the hiring committee’s decision — such as predetermined preferences on the part of board members.
In coaching Alex through this approach, I encouraged him to redefine how he would view his performance in the interview. Was there a way he might interpret it differently from the get-go and be more open to signs of success, even if they were small? Could he, for example, redefine failure as not being able to answer any of the questions posed or receiving specific negative feedback? Could he redefine success as being able to answer each question to the best of his ability and receiving no criticisms about how he interviewed?
As it turned out, Alex did advance to the second round and was complimented on his preparedness. Ultimately, he did not get the job. But because he had shifted his mindset and redefined what constituted failure and success, he was able to absorb the results of the experience more gracefully and with less angst than he had expected.
Set approach goals (not avoidance goals). Goals can be classified as approach goals or avoidance goals based on whether you are motivated by wanting to achieve a positive outcome or avoid an adverse one. Psychologists have found that creating approach goals, or positively reframing avoidance goals, is beneficial for well-being. When you’re dreading a tough task and expect it to be difficult and unpleasant, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen rather than what you do want.
Though nervous about the process, Alex’s desire to become a CEO was an approach goal because it focused on what he wanted to achieve in his career rather than what he hoped to avoid. Although he didn’t land the first CEO job he tried to get, he did not let that fact deter him from keeping that as his objective and getting back out there.
If Alex had instead become discouraged about the outcome of his first C-level interview and decided to actively avoid the pain of rejection by never vying for the top spot again, he would have shifted from approach to avoidance mode. While developing an avoidance goal is a common response to a perceived failure, it’s important to keep in mind the costs of doing so. Research has shown that employees who take on an avoidance focus become twice as mentally fatigued as their approach-focused colleagues.
Create a “fear list.” Author and investor Tim Ferriss recommends “fear-setting,” creating a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you fear will happen if you do it. In his Ted Talk on the subject, he shares how doing this enabled him to tackle some of his hardest challenges, resulting in some of his biggest successes.
I asked Alex to make three lists: first, the worst-case scenarios if he bombed the interview; second, things he could do to prevent the failure; and third, in the event the flop occurred, what could he do to repair it. Next, I asked him to write down the benefits of the attempted effort and the cost of inaction. This exercise helped him realize that although he was anxious, walking away from the opportunity would be more harmful to his career in the long run.
Focus on learning. The chips aren’t always going to fall where you want them to — but if you understand that reality going in, you can be prepared to wring the most value out of the experience, no matter the outcome.
November 4, 2021:
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
“Whatever we call these movements — ‘social justice,’ ‘wokeness,’ ‘identity politics,’ ‘intersectionality,’ ‘successor ideology’ — they claim to offer what religion provides,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said in a November 4 address. “In denying God, these new movements have lost the truth about the human person.”
“This explains their extremism, and their harsh, uncompromising, and unforgiving approach to politics,” he added. “These strictly secular movements are causing new forms of social division, discrimination, intolerance, and injustice.”
My mom used to fight back tears every time she heard of young men going off to war. Their situation recalled her experience of being the mother of a four-month-old baby who watched her uniformed husband board a hospital ship during World War II. The sight of young soldiers kept alive her memories of the long years she spent waiting for my dad’s return. Although she was never an anti-war activist, her sympathetic imagination led her to mourn the dead and wounded of all sides as if they were her own.
In an article entitled, “Why Are the Poor More Generous?” psychoanalyst Ken Eisold explains that people are naturally more compassionate to those with whom they can identify. Thus, the poor understand and can sympathize more with their companions in struggle than can the better-off who have not known the same level of need or desperation. The explanation might be deepened if we consider the idea that the generous response of the poor implies an understanding of our shared vulnerability.
We see this dynamic played out in the story of the widow who helps Elijah. When the widow meets him, Elijah is a refugee fleeing both a drought and political danger. At first blush, it seems odd that he would ask help from one of the most helpless people around, but God had informed him that there was a widow prepared to assist him. Thus, Elijah asked her for water and then boldly added a bite of bread to his order.
That was the woman’s cue to let him know how much he was asking. Obviously, as a man — even though a foreigner — he had greater survival potential than she. But, rather than refuse him, she exposed the absolute bleakness of her situation: she was preparing the last meal she expected that she and her son would eat.
The woman’s combined desperation and generosity were the cue for Elijah’s prophetic announcement: “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry.” Elijah’s promise was that the woman had exercised her power to create a world of solidarity in which the hungry would be fed and the widow and orphan protected.
Did Elijah find a job and help her? Did the flour and oil miraculously reproduce itself? Did neighbors get in on the act? The author doesn’t tell us — perhaps so that we could wonder about all the possibilities. What is clear is that the widow was willing to share with a stranger in need and that as a result, they all survived.
The nameless widow of Zarephath was really nothing like the widow of today’s Gospel. The first freely offered what she had to a fellow person in need while, according to Jesus, the second was duped by slick pretenders skilled at bilking the innocent. Whereas Elijah invited his impoverished hostess into a shared experience of divine providence, the status-seeking religious leaders sought nothing but their own fame and fortune.
Rumbek, South Sudan, Nov 5, 2021 / 04:00 am
The apostolic nuncio to South Sudan has announced the postponement of the episcopal ordination of a Catholic bishop-elect who is recovering from gunshot wounds.
Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare was due to be consecrated as bishop of Rumbek, central South Sudan, on May 23, Pentecost Sunday. But the episcopal ordination was postponed after he was shot in both legs on April 26.
ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, reported that Archbishop Bert van Megen, apostolic nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, announced the delay in an Oct. 30 statement.
“It is my duty to inform you, on behalf of the Holy See, that the episcopal consecration of the Bishop-elect of Rumbek, Rev. Christian Carlassare, has been postponed to 2022, at a date still to be determined,” he said in a letter to local ordinaries and apostolic administrators in South Sudan and Sudan.
The archbishop commended “the Bishop-elect and the Diocese of Rumbek to your fervent prayers.”
Pope Francis named Carlassare as bishop of Rumbek in March, ending an almost 10-year vacancy in the diocese.
The 44-year-old Italian-born Comboni Missionary priest was shot during the early hours of April 26, when two armed men fired multiple bullets at his door, gaining access to his room in a block that houses priests serving at the Diocese of Rumbek’s Holy Family Cathedral.
After initial treatment in Rumbek, he was airlifted to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
In a video recording from his hospital bed on April 27, the bishop-elect described the shooting as life-threatening but called for reconciliation and “justice with the same heart of God” among the people of Rumbek.
“It will take some time for my legs to be able again to walk, but I assure you that I will be back and I will be with you,” said Carlassare, who has served in South Sudan’s Malakal diocese since 2005.
📹VIDEO | “Let us be united in prayer; let us be united with all our hearts to uphold forgiveness in our community,” said Fr. Carlassare, Bishop-Elect of South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese, who is in a Nairobi hospital recovering from gunshot injuries. Let us keep him in our prayers. pic.twitter.com/LTDTi1lS1h
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) April 28, 2021
He added that on the day he was shot, he “called to the government and the community and all the people of Rumbek asking for forgiveness: to forgive those that committed this act, forgiveness that is not just being naive and leaving aside errors but correct errors not with violence, but with dialogue and forgiveness.”
“I feel that the community of Rumbek needs much forgiveness to be able to dialogue and to come together,” he told ACI Africa.
Days later, he said that he was offering his pain for the purification of Rumbek diocese.
“I bend low in front of God to intercede for the Church of Rumbek. I pray for the conversion of sinners. I offer the pain I’m going through so that the Lord, our God, may purify the church of Rumbek from all errors and things like these may happen no more; no room for violence, division, [and] selfish desires that come from the devil,” he said on May 4.