Why sucking at something new is good

Failure is huge right now. It’s being studied. It’s being written about. It’s being blogged about. “Fail early and often,” we’re told.

“Surrender to the pain of failure.” “Failure is fundamental.” The latest key to success is to fail but to fail in the right way.But is there a right way to fail? Is there a right way to submit work you know is half-baked like I did during my first few months at my previous Job(Let’s call it Company X )?

Is there a right way to stumble through a presentation to the sales staff, as I did during
my first few months at Company X? Is there a right way to have a story killed? Is there a right way to do shit work? I don’t think actual failure is what’s being discussed. “Failure” is just the
word that makes the books and articles seem more intriguing than they actually
are. Actual failure is awful and expensive. It’s devastating.

Failure teaches you nothing. You should not consider “failure” a positive outcome. Not early.
Not often. Not ever, if you can help it. Really, what’s being discussed is: mistakes. All of the studies that the books and blog posts cite basically boil down to two messages.

1. Humans hate to make mistakes.

2. A key determinant of success is both accepting that you will make mistakes and paying attention to the mistakes that you make.

One of the most cited experts on this topic is Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, who pioneered the idea of “mind-sets.” People with “fixed mind-sets,” she says, believe their abilities are unchangeable—a belief that causes them to shy away from situations in which they might fail. By contrast, people with “growth mind-sets” embrace challenges because they believe they can become smarter and more capable even if they don’t succeed. They’re willing to get things wrong but more important, they’re ready to listen to the feedback.


Screwing up is not a defining thing. This is such a useful attitude to have. I’ve only just recently adopted this mentality. It’s made my work better. It’s made the process more efficient. And I have a lot more time to spend with my family.
What people with a growth mind-set know is that mistakes are useful when
you’re willing to have a conversation about them, when you’re willing to be
corrected.


But actual failure? Humiliating, devastating failure?


Aside from teaching us that certain decisions are bad decisions and that we
should not make them twice, failure totally blows. But mistakes are amazing.
The main failure of my first couple of years in New York was the shame I
felt at making mistakes. If I have a regret, this is it. I was too caught up in the
fear of making mistakes. I sometimes acted timidly. In the short term, I probably
did “better” work, but in the long term I did worse work because I didn’t allow
myself to get my mistakes over with early. I would stay at work until midnight
working on a headline. I would refine a single joke over two or three days.
There is nothing wrong with focusing on the details. But focusing on the
details at the expense of your personal life is not a good idea.
Now that I’m a manager, if I see someone hanging on to something for
what I think is too long, I will tell them to give it to me. As is. Just turn it over.
Doing work too fast is a bad idea. But doing work too slow is a terrible idea.
The last thing a boss wants is to be left without any options if the work isn’t
good enough. Being fastidious is possibly the worst thing a young worker can
do. The work is probably not going to get to where it needs to be no matter how
long you hang on to it. So turn it in early and then make corrections. You’re
supposed to do bad work.


Everyone wants you to do bad work.
Everyone.


Your boss wants you to get it out of your system and learn what not to do.
And your peers want you to make mistakes too. Either they understand the
value of a fearless colleague or they just want to feel superior . . . if they even
notice. Loads of studies have shown that we tend to think people pay attention to
us twice as much as they actually do. This is the spotlight effect.

And you don’t realize it, but you want to do bad work too. Because in every
bit of bad work, there is always a kernel of something good. Bad work is 2 to
13 percent good. Your job is to pick through the mess you create and find that
good.

Other people will help you find it. Let them.

How to Screw Up Early On in a Job

You want to screw up. If you don’t screw up when you start out, then
you are overqualified for the position. Because if it was anything less
than a big opportunity that affords you a ton of growth, then you would know
how to do everything that’s required. That it feels overwhelming—that you make
loads of mistakes—lets you know that you took a big step, that you’re learning
things, that you’re being challenged. Little failures are how you know you’re
succeeding.
Once few things have been checked off . . . congratulations,
you’re on your way!


1.Reach out to shake an important person’s hand in inappropriate circumstances. Such
as:
while they are eating food.
while they are in the middle of a conversation with someone else in a restroom.


2.Pretend you are intimately aware of something that you actually know nothing about
and keep speaking about it until your ignorance becomes obvious.


3.Conspicuously avoid making eye contact with someone you admire because you are
either blinded by their glory or cowed by their power.


4.Speak very loudly anxiously.


5.Really screw up a presentation. By, say, forgetting how to swallow your own saliva.

6.Loiter around a group of people at a party. Then sidle up to them.


7.Then insert yourself into the conversation awkwardly.


8.Use the phrase “first-day jitters” on your first day.


9.Feel like you want to go home, home being a metaphor for any metaphorical place that possibly involves being metaphorically tucked into a metaphorical bed.


10.Glare at your own reflection in the mirror as if you want to fight yourself.


11. Attribute your first big accomplishment to luck and deception.


12.Due to fatigue and intimidation, clam up at dinner on your first day at work with all of
your new colleagues, including your boss. Like, clam up. Like, do not say
anything.

Congratulation! With these goofups, you are ready to go big.

But Hiring is discrimination

Let’s not jump to conclusions!

Don’t get all worked up reading the title! All the George Floyd discussions on racism, discrimination, and biases got me thinking that we as HR professionals or any human being for that matter,” Are we devoid of that?” I want to ask you all “Can we really get rid of discrimination?

As a hiring manager I have discriminated candidates based on their education, location, and maybe overall personality (Though I do not want to disclose it even to myself let alone to the world on my blog) and I am sure you are no different. In return, I am also discriminated against as a woman and as a job-seeking candidate. Maybe because the recruiter doesn’t like my face or my qualification (what is a Dentist doing in HR? Another confused kid?). The Dentists on the other hand discriminate against me because I was a fool to leave a noble profession (how dare she disrespect the profession by wasting one precious seat?!?) totally forgetting that I am actually doing them a favor by not adding to the competition!

And then there is discrimination as a Woman. Not long ago a Manager reprimanded me for considering a pregnant woman for a role which I seriously thought she was fit for. “But Anuya, why don’t you see that she will head for her Maternity Leave within 6 Months? Why do you want to hire someone who wouldn’t come to the office as soon as they join?” With “work from home” becoming a norm I hope to see some positive changes for women wanting to go on Maternity Leave, they shouldn’t be forced to choose between two loves. Moreover, it’s no secret that women often are employed at lower-paid positions, and if the position is the same as men, the salary will be lower at least.

She has to do so and so because she is a woman.” That so and so can range from doing the dishes to doing babies. And I am neither against doing dishes or babies but can I really escape me being a woman? I revel in me being a woman but could I escape it if I didn’t like being one? Do we really have a choice of what defines us and what doesn’t?

Research says that a woman is a more undesirable employee (?) than a man. Oh, can she stay late? Or travel to that far away office all on her own? It is proved that most employers (and they, as a rule, are represented by men) prefer to hire men and show prejudice against women workers (Jerenberg R. and Smith R., 2014).

Let’s not forget that recruiters are technical Buyers. Their performance is judged on how well candidate/s match the given requirement.

If you aren’t a 90-100% match on paper, you won’t get called. And you can’t be more than 100% match either (talk about impossible standards!)  Studies show that discrimination in employment can be categorized into four types: taste discrimination model; statistical discrimination; discrimination on the basis of monopsony power, discrimination on the basis of occupational segregation.

  1. Taste discrimination model (Becker’s ‘employer taste’ model) is based on the work of Gary Becker and develops the idea that some workers, employers or customers do not want to work with or come into contact with members of other racial groups or with women. In India that racial discrimination can be categorised as religious or caste-based discrimination. No explanation is given as to why this prejudice exists, rather it is simply assumed that there is a ‘taste’ or preference against people from disadvantaged groups and that this taste can be treated in exactly the same way that economists would analyse individual preferences between goods and services(!?!)
  2. Statistical discrimination is the orientation of the employer on his/her predictions about the possible performance of a particular group, for example, men and women. The applicant in the selection of a job will set the wage that corresponds to the value of the average productivity, although the individual performance of the applicant will be different from its value in this group.
  3. Discrimination on the basis of a monopsony power of the employer is based on the idea of a single buyer, a monopsonist, who sets wages below marginal revenue product. The more inelastic the Labour supply, the lower are wages relative to productivity. By differentiating wages between groups with different elasticities of Labour supply, the monopsonist may obtain higher profits. Gender is one of the dimensions along which the employer may discriminate. If female Labour supply is more inelastic than male Labour supply, women will earn less than men relative to their productivity, and thus face a higher level of exploitation in the Labour market.
  4. Occupational segregation is a very dangerous form of discrimination in society, as representatives of different groups of workers have unequal access to the different kinds of Labour activity. Occupations are locked between men and women, between the newcomers and locals and so on.

So, when you are saying “Yes” to something you are saying “No” to something else, and let’s not deny that. When Darwin said “Survival of the fittest” he didn’t know his concept was so widely relatable not just to Science but to all walks of life.If you go looking for discrimination, you’ll find it! While criticizing discrimination let’s also look at shifting perspectives.

Let Rejections be just improvement areas disguised as roadblocks. None of us like rejection but that is the part of the process and necessary so. Our perspective should be, “Was that discrimination justified? Was I not hired because there was a better suitable candidate or Was, I rejected because something in me triggered the recruiter and he/she acted out of their sub/unconscious bias?” are the questions we need to ask not only as interviewees but also as interviewers.

All in all, I am against biases or any discrimination which is demoralizing, dehumanizing, and downright ridiculous. I want to raise my opinion about how any selection process is in fact discrimination albeit indirect. You are discriminating when you are buying groceries, selecting a mate, or deciding which work to do first. Let’s be conscious of our biases and act better. Let’s take discrimination positively and also let’s discriminate only on the basis of quality. Let’s be generous in our outlook and be open to thought processes that are not similar to our own.

Let “the best” Man, Woman, Idea, process, policy, rule, habit (and the list goes on) win and may we also strive to discriminate our older versions against our not so good versions and be on a continuous process of reinventing ourselves. While we cannot completely remove discrimination, we can definitely make better use of it.

References:

*Discrimination issues in the process of personnel selection Krinitcyna Z.V. a *, Menshikova E.V.