I’d like to tell you the secret to my success.
I’ll admit it. A do a pretty good job at the whole paramedic thing. It took a long time to get where I am, but it was worth it. I know my way around most medical situations and I’m comfortable enough in my shoes to have a good time doing it.
Do you want to know the secret to my success? Do you want the inside track on how to get good at EMS. I’m willing to share.
I got good at this job by failing.
That might not be what you were expecting to hear. You might have been thinking that I was going to say I studied hard or that I practiced relentlessly. Maybe you figured I had natural gifts that helped me along the way or perhaps you imagine I tested well in grade school. Some of that’s true.
I tend to do OK with the book stuff and I did need to practice and study to pass all the relevant exams. I’ve always been naturally good with people. But I don’t think any of those things really put me on the road to being a talented paramedic. To do that, I needed to mess up. Sometimes, I needed to mess up royally. If I’m better at this stuff than you are, I’ll make a bet that it’s probably because I’ve made a bunch more mistakes than you have.
I’m guessing that I probably needed to fail more often than the average person to reach my current level of competence. I have this tendency to sometimes need to make the same mistake multiple times before I finally figure out I need to do something different. It’s one of my more endearing qualities.
Somewhere along the way, I grew comfortable with the idea of failure. That’s when things really took off. Once I became OK with the idea of taking the mulligan I became more willing to push my boundaries. When I can’t figure out what’s going on with a patient I seek out advice from doctors, nurses and coworkers. I don’t run and hide from my weakness. I put it out there for everyone to see.
It’s liberating to be fearless about the flawed nature of your existence. There’s a certain freedom that comes from knowing that you’re going to mess some stuff up. You’re going to blow it sometimes. And that’s OK.
So you want to get better at what you do? Try messing up more. Increase your rate of mistakes and you’ll increase your rate of growth astronomically. See what happens when you let go of the idea that you’re supposed to perform your work flawlessly. Tell me how it goes.
Now it’s your turn: Does the fear of failure rule you? How comfortable are you with the idea of making mistakes. How open are you about the errors you make right now?
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