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Me during my first full session of rock climbing

Rock Star Students Don’t Fear Failure

I spent 21 years as a student and 14 years as a teacher. And now I’m back to being a student again. This time around, my classroom is in the real world.

I read the current issue of Inc. with great interest. It highlights the Inc. 500: the 500 fastest growing private companies in the United States. One trend that I saw again and again among these insanely successful entrepreneurs is that they have a drive to learn. Every day they learn something new — not only because they have to — but also because they want to.

I officially decided to start my own company about a year ago. Aside from grad school, I have learned more in this past year than I have in the rest of my adult life.

Because my company is a solo venture, I am simultaneously the principal consultant, head coach, and training manager as well as the office manager, CEO, and marketing director. Over the course of a day, I face disparate questions like:

  • How is it that I need new printer ink already?
  • What’s my estimated bottom line for this quarter?
  • What software (if any) should I use to manage my contacts?
  • What should I post to Twitter today?
  • What should I wear to the networking event next week?
  • How should I respond to this request for a list of my areas of expertise?
  • Do I email this person with one more reminder or is he ignoring me?
  • What’s my vision for my company? Where do I see it in 6 months? In one year?
  • How is it that the day is over already?

How do I tackle these issues? Trial and error without fear of failure. That’s how you become a rock star student in the real world.

I’ve recently taken up rock climbing and the aha moment happened for me when I fell for the first time. It wasn’t so bad. It was kind of fun actually. I was just dangling there laughing. I enjoyed the fact that I finally failed and now I can move on to getting better.

Rock star students don’t fear failure. They manufacture failure and embrace it.

I’m embracing the fact that as a student again, I have the chance to fail and learn every day. I’m also embracing the fact that as I become a better student, I can also become a better teacher.

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Written by

Career Coach for Tech Managers. I help tech managers upgrade their careers, their teams, their paychecks, and their lives.

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