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Failure is an Opportunity for Responsibility

Published 8/16/2021

The romance of endless success is a broken picture of reality.

Instead, focus on inviting failure and taking advantage of the opportunity it brings: the opportunity to take responsibility.

✨ Sponsor:  Gun.io

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Gun.io isn't just an automated lead generation platform. They are experts who know your name and skills, and pair you with client work you actually want

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Failure is inevitable. What we do with Failure is where we derive our agency. We're talking about Failure on today's episode of Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. And Failure is a linchpin for everyone's success. There is a possibility that you will succeed by accident. There is a possibility that you will succeed at the first time that you try something. It's unlikely, but it is possible. This unlikely event of immediate success is the romantic story that we have about our work lives. That we will try something, succeed, and then continue that cycle over and over. A life full of success. The truth is, identifying when you have succeeded versus when you have failed is a difficult process. Where do you draw the line between success and failure? And when do you know when to take that success and failure forward? Failure will be a part of your career. It will be a part of your life. And so instead of subscribing to this romantic notion that failure is outside of the realm of possibility, we should instead invite failure and know how to deal with it. Now notice that I didn't say that we should prepare for failure. This is because I want you to reprogram your understanding of failure at a fundamental level. Because I want you to understand failure, not as a negative thing, but as an opportunity. In today's episode, we're going to talk about that opportunity. What opportunity does failure provide? Something that the romantic notion of serial success and a perfect record of success, this idea that failure is only reserved for people who are not able to succeed. Where that failure is somehow directly correlated with your intelligence or your grit, your attitude, your ability, your skill, your talent, somehow your worth is correlated with your failures is just patently untrue. And very often the people who do succeed succeed on the back of their failures. Failures are an opportunity. I want to talk to you more about that opportunity today. First, I want to talk to you about a brand new sponsor, gun.io. Today's episode is sponsored by gun.io. Gun.io connects independent software professionals with exceptional clients for dependable, fulfilling, fairly paid remote work. If you work in technology, chances are you've considered striking out on your own and opening up your own freelance or consulting shop. Contract work does offer more autonomy over your work day and it's a great way to gain experience in new industries and even build your portfolio. But often becoming a freelance developer means you have to become a bill collector, a marketer, a salesperson, an administrative assistant, and frankly, none of us have time for all of those jobs. If you're looking for freelance or full-time work without all of that extra overhead, go check out gun.io. The team at gun.io personally vets each client on the platform and pitches you to expertly matched projects when you're open to new work. You can get full support from the team on client interviews and let gun.io handle contracts and voicing and getting you paid on time. It's freelancing without the overhead and risk with a platform partner who knows you by name. Apply to join today at gun.io slash T that's gun.io slash T E A. Thanks again to gun.io for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about failure and more specifically I mentioned that failure gives you an opportunity. Very often, the unhealthy way that we deal with failure is we try to find blame. We don't call it that, but we try to understand where we went wrong. And if we can't assign it to ourselves, it is even more comfortable to turn around and assign it to someone else. This shifts the blame off of us and allows us to maintain that romantic false notion that we can only succeed. When we shift the blame of failure onto an external situation or person, the hypothesis that we're basing this on is that we did everything we could. We did everything we should to succeed. We lose the opportunity and we're going to talk about that opportunity now. Failure provides you the opportunity to take responsibility. Failure provides you the opportunity to take responsibility. Now, we want to be very clear about something. We want to draw a very clear bright line between responsibility and blame. A sign, some kind of former judgment, some kind of backwards-looking understanding of filter, some kind of mistake that was made. And often, blame carries with it the assumption of consciousness. In other words, you consciously made a bad decision. You consciously were ignorant about something, you didn't do everything you could. This is why shifting blame, by the way, carries with it the idea that you did do everything you could. Instead, responsibility is forward-looking. Responsibility is active. When you have the opportunity to take responsibility, you're choosing to respond to your failures. Instead of taking blame and turning that blame into guilt, allowing that blame to fester into issues of self-worth or a sense of constant failure as a person, you take responsibility. When a failure occurs, taking responsibility means I'm going to learn from this failure, I'm going to move forward and do something different. I'm going to adjust something. I'm going to try to investigate what could have gone differently. This doesn't mean that you don't look at your failures with a critical eye. Of course, there are things that we do that are poor judgment or something that we ignored. Looking back and saying, this is somehow attached to you as a person, to your worth, to your ability, to your potential. That is what we don't want to do. Taking responsibility means I'm willing to look at things as they were. I'm willing to revisit this failure without allowing it to color my understanding of the opportunity for the future. Taking responsibility after failure. This is the huge opportunity that can change your career. If you are a manager, if you're leading other people, recognizing that failures are that birth moment of an opportunity. This is what is so critical about understanding failure through a lens of positivity, through a lens of this being a springboard. This isn't just a new craze, a new way of thinking about failure that makes it softer or easier to deal with. This is fundamentally the process of learning and what is necessary to learn failure is a critical moment to take responsibility. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Gun.io. If you are looking to maybe you're just wanting to do some side work, maybe you want to start your whole new solo career as a freelancer, you want to build your own company. Gun.io is going to take off some of that load for you of having to do every job under the sun, being your own everything. And instead you can focus on the work. I want to take a moment to sincerely thank you for listening to Developer Tea. It's been around for quite some time now. We're approaching a thousand episodes. This show is not going anywhere anytime soon. And you are the reason that we can continue doing this. I'd love to do even more with the show. I'd love to continue to grow the audience, continue to bring these ideas to more and more developers and continue discussing them. The only way we can do that is if you take the show and share it with other people. We never market this show. We haven't bought ads. We don't do campaigns for Developer Tea. It is all entirely in your hands whether or not the show continues to exist. So if you enjoy this podcast and you think it's valuable, if you think other people could get value from it, if you think they would enjoy it, please take a moment and share it with them. Another way that you can do this more passively rather than thinking of a specific person is to leave a review and rating in iTunes or in whatever podcast provider you use. Thanks so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.