(#276) Mistakes, Disappointments, Curiosity and Growth

When we choose not to dare because we might “risk feeling disappointed”
we end up “choosing to live disappointed.”

Nearly thirty years ago I made a huge professional mistake.  At that time I decided to make a career move from classroom teaching to an administrative slot at a university. Within three days in the new position I knew without a doubt that I had made a colossal mistake. Within three months I resigned the position.

To some observers, it looked like a mind-numbing, stupid and personal failure.  I still remember an encounter when I returned to the classroom the following year. A “colleague” announced in the teacher’s lounge that Piscitelli just couldn’t hack it out there.


That would have been true if I had allowed that disappointment to become an excuse to never risk again.  If I had followed that path, that would have been a failure.

About five years later I made, what appeared to be, another professional misdirection. And again, what seemed a mistake/failure/bone-headed move proved to be anything but. Lost in the forest of doubt and regret.

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another “colossal mistake”—that ended up being one of the biggest, best, and brightest decisions I ever made.

Each of these “failures” made it possible for me to stretch and become someone better than I had been.  Without each of the two decisions (above) I doubt I would have had the opportunities to become an author, speaker, facilitator, and college professor. Each “misstep” led to a series of valuable lessons and opportunities in my life.

Not too shabby for someone who supposedly couldn’t “hack it.”

Don’t let fear of failure stop you. Don’t let the naysayers tell you what you can and cannot do.

Brené Brown, in her new book Rising Strong, reminds us that when we choose not to dare because we might “risk feeling disappointed” we end up “choosing to live disappointed.” How many people do you know who choose to “settle”? Is that the life you want?

2014-07-17 13.23.46

In the workplace, transformational leaders understand this as well. They give their people room to breathe and, yes, make mistakes—and grow. I had a coffee conversation this week with a person who appears to be a wonderfully gifted (upper) manager in her field. Unfortunately for her and her organization, she has been stymied by gate-keeper after gate-keeper.  Her transactional leader doesn’t appear to provide much in the way of trust or growth opportunities. This employee suffers, the organization suffers, and the people it serves will suffer. No doubt in my mind.

Seth Godin refers this as “Don’t touch it, you might break it.”  The great leaders encourage touching! And if it breaks, we will fix it together.

Video recommendation for the week:

Make no mistake (pun intended), each of my decisions (above) and their immediate consequences felt like the end of the world. Prime time for beating myself up.  And while I did more of that than anyone else did to me, I had to move through the disappointment. As Al Seibert said in The Resiliency Advantage, we can cope or we can crumble.”

Consider Dan Nevins.  He faced unbelievable hardships and odds. “Disappointment” really is much too mild of a descriptor for his journey. And most definitely, he is not a failure. What an inspiration!  Check out his story.

And so can you be an inspiration as you move forward.

In her book Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, Pema Chiron reminds us that when things just don’t work for us, we “could get curious about what is going on.”  Mistakes, James Joyce said, are “the portals of discovery.

What dream or circumstance do you have that fills you with a bit (or a lot) of trepidation?  What causes the reticence? What little (or big) step can you do this week that will put you in the mindset of “What if I did this?” YES, you might fail and be disappointed. AND think of the exhilaration awaiting you with the chance and the potential for change. Either way, you learn and grow.

Put the energy vampires aside. Don’t let “perfection” and “disappointment” rule.  You have so much more to offer yourself and those around you.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience(http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in Appreciation, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, change, Choice, confidence, courage, curiosity, Energy Vampires, Grit, growth, inspiration, leadership, mentoring, Reflection, resilience, Success, vulnerability and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to (#276) Mistakes, Disappointments, Curiosity and Growth

  1. Cass Worthington says:

    Great post Steve! Like the referral to Brene Brown too, interesting! You are an inspiration. Keeping Laurie in my prayers every day, keep us posted. Hugs to both of you. 😍

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Akhil Jain says:

    I too believe the same. Mistake are a great way of learning


  3. Pingback: (#289) On Making Mistakes, Being Ordinary, and Embracing Growth | Steve Piscitelli--Growth and Resilience

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