You’re Not Failing – Your Tactics Are Failing

I’m insecure about not measuring up at work. It especially bothers me to think that I might ultimately fail despite all my efforts – that I might discover that I am a failure.

As I measure and consider the work I’ve done, I feel that anxiety sometimes. But there is another way for me to think about failure.

What if instead of dwelling on how I am failing, I think in terms of how my tactics are failing?

If I center the problem on myself, my failure isn’t just more painful – it’s also incurable (except through the very painful and costly process of replacing me). Even if I believe that I am somehow a failure, it’s probably not going to mean that someone new gets to swap in and resume with magical competence. I’ve got to at least stick something out until I’m replaced – and for that, drilling myself with the belief that I am an absolute failure is no use. The “I am a failure / I am failing” narrative is one that often just paralyzes and poisons into over-caution anyway, right at a time when experimentation is called for.

But if I frame failure in terms of a simple problem on my tactics, it’s amazing how different I feel about it. Failure becomes something that my tactics have to deal with – it’s not centered in my character. I don’t have to defend my tactics in order to have self esteem. And I can ditch bad tactics much more easily than I can ditch myself.

I need to worry a little less about measuring up. I need to think a little more about whether my tactics do.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.