Faking Out Failure

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. It probably had something to do with my nickname boo-boo. Everyone thinks it is just some cute thing, but that’s not the case.

An ER doctor gave me that nickname after I broke five toes at once with a 25-pound weight. Long story short, my Mom told me not to touch the plates. When she caught me touching those same plates and said, “drop it.” I did.

Small catch: I dropped it on my toes. All five broke instantly.

While I remember the pain and how pissed my Mom was, what I recollect most was how that doctor made me feel. He paid attention to me, and I could feel how different that made the healthcare experience. I wanted to be that doctor. The one who could make people feel safe when they weren’t sure what was happening. The one with the answers.

My Mom was probably very excited about my wanting to be a doctor. I mean, isn’t it every parent’s dream that their child finds a profession early in life? Even better if it pays well, right? That’s why she sent me to a camp all about becoming a doctor. With other kids my age, I would attend Emory University to learn what it would take. I stayed in the dorms and everything. Pretty cool for a 7th grader.

A few days in, one of the residents explained every step that you could fail out of medical school. There are incremental tests, and if you don’t pass, you don’t keep going. You’re done.

Upon learning this intel, I was done with my doctor dreams. I was not going to make a career out of something I could fail out of halfway through. No no. I wanted certainty.

The irony that I’m an entrepreneur where I can fail at any time is not lost on me. It’s funny to think that I believed corporate America was less risky than a medical career considering the layoffs and switch-ups I’ve experienced at the hand of corporate crap.

While I don’t have regrets about my career path, I’ve learned that fear is often a sign that I’m heading in the right direction. I can’t keep avoiding the roadblocks. I can’t tell myself I’ll fail before I even get there – especially if I want to continue building a business and a career that keeps me interested. Part of staying interested in work is learning new things and screwing some of them up, too.

That’s how these Pride panels came to be. I was so scared to talk about my identity. I could’ve avoided it altogether. If I had, I would not be uncovering what I believe could be my life’s work.

Even if it all went wrong, the truth is, the screw-ups are good too. No one moment is so grand or fabulously awful that it will throw your entire life completely off track. Life is a lot less about the W/L columns and a whole lot more about moving in the right direction.

In fact, I believe those shit storms happen to throw you back on track. In my experience, you only get jerked around by the universe when you’re not in the right place. It doesn’t always feel good, but it’s right.

I hope you remember not to let fear of failure dictate your decisions this week. That you take your giant leaps and wear your scars with pride as you walk your path.

I hope you tell the story of your path on LinkedIn, too. That’s what I wrote about in this week’s blog post – advice for recruiters and everyone else who wants to stand out for all the right reasons on LinkedIn: 3 Ways To Build A Better Recruiter Profile on LinkedIn.

As always, if you want me to write that LinkedIn profile for you, book a session here.

Check out my latest on ERE Media, too. How to Provide an LGBTQ-Friendly Candidate Experience



Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.