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Pages tagged "Failure"


Coming back from failure

Last year, I was asked to present a workshop session on social media for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Essentials Conference.  I couldn’t have been more confident. I had presented before, knew social media marketing well, and overall felt like it would be a breeze.

And then the session happened. 

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Why I fail loudly and you can, too

Assorted lemons some cut in half and some wholeTo be a young nonprofit professional in the Twin Cities is to be surrounded by peers who are doing interesting, relevant, and impactful work. We can point to thriving nonprofits and a vibrant arts community as evidence that we’re part of something big and good – and that is usually true! But with such a lively nonprofit ecosystem comes the reality that there are plenty of people angling for the same opportunities you are. And chances are, you’ll fail. At least, I do! Rather than focusing on how to minimize my risk of failure, I’m more interested in openly sharing the risks I take (and the failures I experience) with others and suggest you give it a shot.

As part of a healthy nonprofit ecosystem, opportunities for personal and professional growth surround us; however, there’s understandably a limit to the number of individuals who can take advantage of them. To be clear, I have read 380,000 thinkpieces where Silicon Valley-types talk about failing, and I’m cool with that—but it’s not exactly what I mean.

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The bright side of pessimism

How many times in a meeting have you said, “HEY everyone! I have the best idea….” Your boss is nodding vigorously. Your work bestie is clasping her hands in delight. You’re beaming from ear to ear. But you can’t celebrate yet.

You forgot about negative Nelly. Nelly is already scowling. She’s just waiting to chime in with, “That’s out of budget, our CEO doesn’t have Twitter, and where in the heck would we even get a trained polar bear?” Srsly, Nelly, chill!

In the working world there has been long held cultural ideal of the perfect worker: the extraverted, enthusiastic, and ambitious optimist. Inspired by the spate of articles arguing for the value of introverts, I think we need to also recognize the value of having a pessimist on our team.

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(Un)professional: A roundup of awkward, embarrassing, human moments at work

Embarrased sculptureProfessional embarrassments. Everyone's been there—some of us more than others. Spilling printer toner all over the office. Wiping out in front of a hallway full of people and a security camera. Having the CEO see your computer screen in passing and exclaim, "What a nice picture of the governor!" then come closer only to see that you were in the middle of a Photoshop teeth whitening session.  

These are just the stories I'm willing to admit.

I posted on social media and handed out business cards with a verbal prompt during Professional Polish (ironic, I know). Then I sat back and watched the stories roll in. You didn't hold back.

Here's a selection of your working and networking blunders, republished anonymously but with the profanity intact. 

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Things Learned at #FailLab

full.jpgPlaying Jenga … drawing birds … writing song lyrics with your non-dominant hand … defending an unpopular viewpoint … what do they have in common? They are all activities from the “Fail Lab” that happened during Taking the Alternative Route: The Upside to an Unexpected Journey, YNPN-TC’s June event.

In addition to some light-hearted failing, the event featured a conversation between Diane Tran (Founder of Minnesota Rising, Damon Runnals (Executive Director of the Southern Theater), and Pa Thao (the panel moderator and Assistant to the President and CEO of the Northern Achievement Zone).

Some of the best quotes from the night (in no particular order):

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Being Fearless

“She’s fearless.”

I had just put in my two weeks notice at my job and was informing my coworkers I was leaving. As I came around the corner of the cubicle, the grantwriter who sat across the hallway from me said those words to another coworker, shaking his head in admiration.

I’m very rarely stunned. But I was in that moment.

This man, whose personal and professional respect matters immensely to me, thought I was fearless by taking on new, bigger, more challenging work.

It’s not an adjective I’d apply to myself. I’m afraid of a lot of things: Snakes. Dying without saying important things to the important people in my life. My dogs dying. Snakes. Ok, so I’m mostly afraid of snakes and death. But fearless?

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When It’s Okay to Quit

main.jpgI need to quit something. It’s a something that is a net good thing for the world–it brings me extra income, it accomplishes positive things for people–but it is a something that is not good for me.

Lately, I’ve been challenged to think about the dangers of people pleasing and its negative health consequences. Fellow do-gooders, nonprofit professionals, and people pleasers of the world, I’m here to tell you: if something isn’t feeding you, it’s okay to quit. That thing–that volunteer gig, that second job, that thing that helps you 10 percent but runs you ragged–can survive without you. I am replaceable, and you are replaceable. That’s a really freeing thing if you’ll let it be. 

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Failing into the future

Think of someone you greatly admire or consider a hero. While ruminating about their secrets for success, have you ever also considered how much they may have failed to get to where they are? While that may not be the first question that springs to mind, when you’re curious about how they accomplished certain heroic feats, doesn’t that consideration make them seem more human and relatable, once you know that they’ve also struggled and overcome obstacles along the way?

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