Episode 143: Turning failure into success – with Emily Sander of Next Level Coaching

Everyone knows we learn from our mistakes, but when you make a mistake it can be difficult to put this into practice and it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of seeing yourself as a failure.

Founder of Next Level Coaching Emily Sander explains how we can turn failure into success, develop a positive mindset, and keep ourselves anchored during hard times.She talks about what leads people to think of themselves as a failure, how best to respond to situations that make you feel like a failure and the importance of defining what success looks like for you.

Today’s guest

Emily Sander of Next Level Coaching

Website: Next Level Coaching

LinkedIn: Next Level Emily

Twitter: Next Level Emily

Emily Sander is a C-Suite Executive, founder of Next Level Coaching and the author of “Hacking Executive Leadership”.  As an ICF-certified coach, she guides clients towards new perspectives that enable them to adapt and evolve as leaders.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [6:10] How to define failure.
  • [9:12] The importance of defining what success looks like for you.
  • [11:46] How to respond to situations that make you feel like a failure.
  • [14:29] How to know when you’ve properly processed failure.
  • [16:49] How to respond to negative feedback about your work.
  • [18:47] How to anchor yourself when you’re feeling down.
  • [23:22] What leads people to think of themselves as a failure.
  • [26:59] How to shift your mindset around the mistakes you’ve made.
  • [31:31] Why it’s never too late to leave your job.
  • [35:07] The value of finding a job that is the right fit for you.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 143: Turning failure into success - with Emily Sander of Next Level Coaching

Jeremy Cline 0:00
Are there ever any times where you just feel like a failure? Maybe you've had a complaint from a client or a customer, perhaps your boss has had a go at you and not without justification, you just feel like nothing is going right for you. So, how can you turn things around? How can those failures help you to become more successful in the future? And how can you get out of the mindset of thinking, 'I am a failure.' That's what we're talking about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:31
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, then you're in the right place. This week's episode is inspired by a conversation I had recently, where I was asked, 'Why do you never interview any failures on your podcast?' That got me thinking. What does it mean to fail or to be a failure? What can you do if you consider yourself to be a failure? How can you turn failure into success? To answer these questions and more, I'm joined this week by Emily Sander of Next Level Coaching. Emily is an executive coach and also the author of Hacking Executive Leadership, which is about going from being insecure, indecisive and overloaded, to confident, influential and effective. Emily, welcome to Change Work Life.

Emily Sander 1:42
Great to be with you, Jeremy. Thank you.

Jeremy Cline 1:44
So, let's start with the book. What problem is the book looking to solve?

Emily Sander 1:49
Yeah, so over my business career, 15 years, and my coaching career, I kept seeing these recurring themes and frameworks that were helpful to people over and over again. So, it wasn't necessarily the specific answer to this specific scenario. It was, here's how you think about something like that. And then, you can apply that framework to multiple scenarios that you're going to run into as a business professional and as a business leader. So, the book is a collection of all of those, that I've used myself and have found helpful and have worked with colleagues and clients on, and they've been helpful for them, as well. So, it's trying to solve the problem of, I'm not going to give you the specific answer to your specific question, because I don't know it, but these frameworks are repurposable and can be evergreen in that sense.

Jeremy Cline 2:38
And how did you develop the frameworks in the book?

Emily Sander 2:42
During COVID, during COVID lockdown, I had a lot of time, a lot of free time. And so, I tried to be productive with it, besides going a bit crazy and a bit mad in my little house. And so, I did a huge brainstorming project and involved lots of sticky notes and colour coordination, and I got all these little stories and anecdotes and interactions I had with people over my career. And then, I stood back and did a bit of a Beautiful Mind exercise, from that movie, and I saw themes start to emerge. And I said, 'Okay, so I group those sticky notes together.' And those became some of the frameworks and indeed some of the chapters that I have in the book. So, just putting everything I had out on a board, and certain things just kind of came to life and were grouped together.

Jeremy Cline 3:29
You mentioned having a 15-year career in corporate and then going into coaching. What was your journey from one to the other?

Emily Sander 3:37
My career, I worked in technology-based businesses, pretty much my entire career. So, it started with large companies like Amazon and Microsoft, I was a tester on the very first version of the Kindle device, which was a lot of fun, and then worked through a series of small to medium businesses. And I saw lots of iterations of companies and leadership teams and leadership styles and cultures, and all of this. And I saw people really thrive in certain environments, I saw people do not so well in certain environments. And as I was in between jobs and was transitioning, I reflected back and said, 'Hey, what's my favourite part of each job?' Essentially, what did I find most fulfilling or rewarding? And it was the interactions I had with colleagues or direct reports or even bosses that helped them get to their next level, whatever that was for them. It could have been an actual career progression, a promotion, or it could have been helping Jennifer with her confidence in presenting things like this, but those memories and experiences floated to the top and came to the fore. I said, 'Oh, if I could do something like that all the time, that would be fantastic.' And then, I found coaching and found out coaching was a thing you could do and a profession you could go into, and I said, 'Oh, I was a coach before I knew what coaching was.' So, I went to do that, and then transitioned into that, which I'm very, very happy with, and it's something where, if you get to wake up, and you're excited for the day, I think that's a win.

Jeremy Cline 5:13
I love the way you described, looking back and thinking, 'Well, what were the things that I enjoyed, what are the things that I could do every day, and that would make me happy, and I'd enjoy that?' I'm sure that's an exercise which you do with your clients. It's certainly an exercise which I do with my clients. And it's really powerful. I had previous guests talk about the red thread that kind of ran through their previous career before they got into coaching, and that was how they got to that. And certainly, for me, as you say, interactions with colleagues, chatting around with people, that's the stuff that I really enjoy. And it's when I went through my own coaching process myself, I realised that I had to do something to involve that. Top tip for everyone listening, do that exercise, it really is incredibly worthwhile. So, we're talking about failure. So, let's start with a definition. Is failure just the opposite of success?

Emily Sander 6:13
Yeah, so the traditional sense of failure is when you've made a decision, and the outcome doesn't go the way you want. And I actually don't accept that one. So, in my book, I have a chapter on the failure loop, and there's a graph, but I'll explain it briefly for your listeners. It's a chain of individual loops that are all connected, and the chain goes up into the right, and that's the direction of progress. However, when you're in a certain part of the individual loop, you are going back down and to the left, which is the opposite direction of progress. And that section of the individual loop is what people traditionally think of as the failure event. So, okay, I went to make a board presentation, it didn't go well, and I fell on my face, and I'm embarrassed. I failed at that. I made a decision about taking this job, and it didn't work out, so that was a bad decision. It's things like this. And a lot of people stop there. And a lot of people figuratively sit on the ground and raise their hand and say, 'I'm a failure', and they just stop. And instead, if you take that as a learning experience, and it's not easy, it doesn't feel good in that moment, but if you take the lesson and learning, and you apply it going forward, that's what propels you up to the next individual loop, and that's what propels you in the direction of progress. And so, you think about this over time, and you do this over and over and over again, in your career and in your life, you will become a successful person, you will be someone who is putting themselves out there, a little bit outside of their comfort zone, in their growth edge, I like to call it, and if you keep doing that, you will rack up successes. And so, the failure loop is a framework to flip the traditional sense of failure on its head and allows you to continue in the direction you want to go.

Jeremy Cline 8:04
Okay, so just with the vision analogy, which is quite hard to do on an audio medium, but I've kind of got the image of maybe a train going up a slight hill, and the wheels are kind of going round, and then they're going down, and then they're going up again, and then they're going down again. And then they're going up again, and they're going down again. And the top part is continually getting higher. And the bottom part, over time, will gradually be higher than the top parts of those loops from further down. So, it's kind of like a spiral effect gradually going up and up.

Emily Sander 8:39
Yes, that's a good analogy. Yes, higher highs and higher lows. Yeah, there you go.

Jeremy Cline 8:44
Brilliant. Okay. And I mentioned success, you mentioned success, presumably, if you're thinking in terms of what a failure might look like, or something not going right or whatever, you need to have an idea of what going right does look like. And I wonder if that's something that people necessarily think about. People think, 'Oh, I failed at that.' But can they answer the question, well, what would success look like?

Emily Sander 9:13
To me, success is continuing to grow and improve. And I don't mean that in like a woowoo kind of way. To me, humans naturally adapt and evolve. That's just what we do. So, you can think about a tree, you can look at a tree and go, 'Oh, it's growing, and it's getting bigger, and it's getting taller.' And the tree isn't sitting there going like, 'I'm trying to grow.' It's just what a tree does. So, in the same way, to me, humans are meant to explore and expand and evolve and improve themselves. And so, a successful person, to me, is someone who does that and takes that mentality and approach. And so, this failure loop that I talked about is just a rubric or a way, a mechanism to do that. So, there's lots of ways to succeed, and we can talk about different people's motivations and what they aspire to do in terms of career and title and money and who they help and how they help and things like this. But at the core level, to me, it's someone who is just always trying to get better, and to make themselves a better leader, in order to serve the people around them better.

Jeremy Cline 10:21
Which presumably means don't ever quite get there.

Emily Sander 10:24
It's a lifelong journey, but not in the discouraging way. I wake up, and I'm like, 'I wish I could read all the books in the world', or at least a lot of them. And if you do the math, if you're a very consistent reader, you might be able to read a couple thousands in your lifetime. And that just to me is tragic. So, I pick a whole bunch of books and listen to them at three times speed on Audible, try to get them in.

Jeremy Cline 10:49
I'd like to kind of break this down into two bits, first to deal with specific, air quotes, 'failures', close air quotes, where something has gone wrong. And then, I'd like to address the wider, the person who thinks, 'Oh, I am a failure', and we can explore what their reasons might be for thinking that. So, you've got something which didn't go well. You had a meeting where you had a particular objective, that objective wasn't met, and everyone came out of that meeting particularly grumpy, and maybe you had a client there, and that client just ended up shouting at you, and it didn't really go well. You've just come out of that meeting, you're feeling dreadful. So, what can you do in those circumstances?

Emily Sander 11:45
First of all, don't try to deny the dreadful feeling that, yes, this is not feeling the greatest at this moment. But then, say this is a huge learning opportunity. And I know that's not sometimes what you feel like hearing, but it is what you need to hear. Because in these moments, where you don't do well, you actually gain the most, if you do the work. So, you gain the most out of these experiences if you're willing to do the work, which doesn't feel good. So, what about this meeting made it not go well? What could have you done differently? Could you and the team have prepped differently? Could you have showed up in a different way within the meeting? And take those learnings and pieces of information going forward. And perhaps, in the next meeting with the same client or with another client, you can apply those lessons and say, 'Hey, does this work a bit better?' And so, in that sense, you've said, 'Okay, I've taken this somewhat negative situation, and at least I'm going to use it for future good.'

Jeremy Cline 12:45
What's the mental frame of mind that you ideally want to be in before doing that assessing, taking the learnings? I mean, does it make sense to have, for want of a better word, I'm going to call it a grieving period? So, it might be five minutes, it might be five hours, where you're just in a grump about it, and just the idea of trying to look back and taking the learnings from it is just not going to work for you.

Emily Sander 13:15
Great question. Yes, there is a period where you need to sit in it and accept it. And so, it's temporary, it's not forever. But I've had people who have made huge career decisions, and it did not go the way they wanted it to. And that mourning period, as you say, it was weeks. It was weeks, they felt really horrible about it. And they were not in a headspace to be able to do this. So, what I would say is, allow yourself that time, don't wallow in it longer than necessary, but allow yourself that time, but in that time period, know where you are in the process. So, know that it is temporary, and know that you're going through this to allow it to be there, and it goes through you, and then eventually, you will do the exercise of taking the learnings and applying them going forward, and you will progress again. So, even that awareness of where you are in that framework is helpful, because at those moments, as you and I know, it feels overwhelming, and it feels like it's always going to be this way. And you're a little bit in tunnel vision, and you have the blinders on. So, simply having perspective and knowing where you are is helpful.

Jeremy Cline 14:25
How do you know when you're through that and ready to assess things?

Emily Sander 14:30
There is lifting sensation that I've had, and I've had clients describe to me, where it's still there, but the overwhelmingness of it, and almost like a monolithic thing that's just all around you lifts a little bit. And it's like, hey, time has done its thing, or perhaps, I've gone away for a bit into a new location and gotten some perspective, sometimes your child will say something to you where you're like, 'Oh my gosh, this isn't actually the biggest thing in the world.' And so, little things like that will give you time and space. And once you feel that bit of lift, it might be saying, 'Okay, now might be the time to ask myself, can I look back and reflect back on that a little bit more objectively?'

Jeremy Cline 15:14
I'm sure that there are people listening who are going, 'Yes, yes, that all sounds very good. But I don't have time to do this. I just want to move in. Yes, I've had that bad meeting. Yes, yes, I know, if I made time, then I probably would get a better result next time, but you know, I've got this to-do list backing up, I just don't have time to do this reflection, even though I know it would be good for me.'

Emily Sander 15:39
Where do you want to be in a year? In five years? To me, we talked about a true sense of success and a true sense of failure. I don't like calling people failures, but if you're doing the same thing, expecting a different result, you're staying stagnant, and in that sense, you are failing, because you're not taking, it's challenging, and it's hard, and it's being vulnerable, and it's saying, 'Oh, I might have done something wrong, and I might have to admit that to myself and others', but that process is what makes you better. And so, if you're going to ignore this, then don't expect drastic improvement.

Jeremy Cline 16:14
We talked earlier a little bit about loops. And sometimes it can seem as though these things come along more than once. So, maybe you had that bad meeting, and then, that afternoon you spilled a cup of coffee down your front. And then, the following day, I don't know, you received a snotty email from someone, and you get into this feeling, just nothing is going right. Where do you go when that's how things seem?

Emily Sander 16:49
Yeah, I mean, the meeting is certainly a failure loop item. I think like spilling coffee and getting a snotty email from your boss, those to me are a little bit different. When someone gives you feedback, or you get an interaction from someone, I always tell my clients that's an offering. You can choose to accept that and bring that inside yourself and really take it personally, or you can keep at a distance. And again, it's not easy, you have to do work around it, but if you say, 'Nope, I'm not going to give away my power essentially to this person', because when your boss sends you an email, and you allow yourself to get angry and frustrated and have it ruin your day, you're basically saying, 'Yes, I'm going to give you power to control my emotions.' And it's actually empowering to say, 'No, I can deal with that, I can deal with the coffee spilling, I know what I'm going to be about, and I will assign meaning to that how I want.' And so, to me, that's slightly different than the failure loop, but it is all about mindset and how you go into the day. With that said, we're all humans, and I am very guilty of this sometimes, it's like, 'Oh, that really got to me', and I let that ruin my first half of the day. And if and when that happens, what I would say is, don't say, 'Oh, well, I lost half a day, so this whole day is shot.' Say, 'Okay, let me regroup', maybe take a walk or take a few deep breaths or go look at a picture, whatever gives you perspective or inspires you, and say, 'I can choose to start anew in the next minute of my day.' So, those are things, I've experienced it myself and clients are like, 'Well, I did this one bad thing, and now the whole day is shot.' Kind of like a bad diet, well, I cheated once, and now I'm just going to splurge the rest of the day.

Jeremy Cline 18:30
So, how do you get people to that place? Because it is a very easy thought process. And maybe you get to midday, you're coming up to lunchtime, and you think, 'Oh, it's been a terrible morning, this day is just going to be a write-off. So, you know, why bother?' How can you reset yourself?

Emily Sander 18:47
I like to use anchor thoughts, and those are things that you do have to do a bit of prep work beforehand, and say, 'Hey, what am I about? What are my core values? And what do I want to remind myself of?' Because oftentimes, we do get in that tunnel vision, or perhaps someone does say something negative to us, and we take that all in. And so, we can't remember, or we don't think that we're good at anything, or we're adding a lot of value, when in fact, you are. You're on the team for a reason. And so, having those anchor thoughts locked and loaded in your head or perhaps on your phone, scroll through those to just remind yourself, 'Okay, yes, I do do this well, and I am on the team for a reason, and I am a good communicator, and I am making progress in these areas.' And that can kind of help fill your tank, so to speak, when external events or external people are depleting your tank, you can fill yourself back up and get to a headspace that you want to be working from.

Jeremy Cline 19:42
I'm sure they are specific to each person though, can you maybe give an example of anchor thoughts that you write down, or you've had clients write down, just so I can get a feel of what they look like?

Emily Sander 19:55
Yeah, like you say, they're personalised, but you know, 'I'm impressive. I do big things, and I make things happen. I figure stuff out. I'm smart. I'm capable. I'm great with people. I am a dynamic big picture thinker, and I can put concrete plans to action on the ground. That's a rare combo, and that's sought after in the marketplace.' Just those are some off the top of my mind for my clients, but those types of things that are just, like they say, anchor you to like, 'Oh, yes, that's who I am, and that's what I'm about.'

Jeremy Cline 20:25
And they've got to be genuine to you, haven't they? I mean, anyone can go, 'I'm a big picture thinker, I'm a team player', all that kind of stuff, where in fact, they might be a real detail person who prefers to work by themselves.

Emily Sander 20:37
And that's fine, too. And then, you would say that about that person. We go through a process, and I call it a Belief 10 process. So, we come up with, or the client comes up with a saying or a statement, and then, on a scale of one to 10, one being the lowest, 10 being the highest, how much do you believe that? And it has to be a 10, it has to be that strong to carry that emotion and feeling with it. And if it's not a 10, what you can do is make an interim statement and say something like, 'I'm learning to be more kind to myself, or I'm learning to lead a team meeting well." And so, if you're like, 'I don't believe I lead a team meeting well today, but do I believe 100% I'm learning to do that? Yes, I can get on board with that statement.' You use one of those.

Jeremy Cline 21:24
So, when asking yourself these questions and writing yourself one to 10 and trying to get a 10, you have to be quite vulnerable with yourself and, I guess, with your coach or whoever, anyone else who you're working with on this.

Emily Sander 21:37
You do. It's deep work, but it's so worthwhile. This is one of the favourite things I get to work on with clients, when they get excited, because you'll go through a couple of statements that don't quite resonate and don't quite energise you, and then, you'll get the one that's like, 'Yes, that one, I believe that one.' And it's an excitement, it's an enthusiasm, it's a sense of empowerment. And so, once you find your Belief 10 statement, then actually, you know you have it, and you're reassured that you have it when you need it. And then, over time, if I work with clients over time, we go back and revisit their Belief 10s, and oftentimes, they will be able to take out the modifier, they'll be able to make the statement even stronger as they go forward. So, they'll go, 'Emily, I can lead a team meeting in my sleep, like no problem, I can take that off the list entirely.' And so, they grow into these things. But yes, it takes some deep work and being vulnerable and being genuine. We're not saying, 'Here's what I think I should say, or here's a well-known mantra, let me just say that, because I'm supposed to say that.' It's really personalised to you, and it does go to what you might not be the greatest at or might not be the most competent at right now, but it's filling those gaps, and again, moving you forward to be in a place where you can do these things competently.

Jeremy Cline 22:58
So, let's go on to the person who is at a bit of a low, and they've been on that low for some time. What do you see, or what have you seen with your clients that might lead someone to think, not that they've just failed in some things, but that they are a failure?

Emily Sander 23:21
That's a large question. First thing I would say is, sometimes a series of quote-unquote, 'negative external events' do happen in rapid succession. And I've gone through that, and many of my clients have. And it's okay not to be okay is the first thing. So, people often double stack the anxiety around that. And what I mean is, you could be laid off, and that might be an opportunity in disguise, but it might just be, 'Hey, now I have trouble paying the bills.' And that is a true event. You're getting a little bit of stress with that, but becoming overly stressed on top of that and just compounding that, it's like, 'Oh, I'm not okay, and I feel bad about feeling not okay', that compounds it against itself. And so, saying it's okay not to be okay, and it's okay to have lows, and it's okay to be going through peaks and valleys, and that's just part of life, again, keeping that perspective, and this too shall pass, or I'll be moving forward, and good things will happen. So, just accepting that and not making it harder on yourself than you need to is the first thing. And then, I would take a look at, everyone has a lens that they're looking through the world through. That was a misuse sentence. But everyone has a contact lens on, so to speak, or glasses, and so, everything they go through in life and all the experiences and interactions they have are going through those lenses. And in real life, that helps us see more clearly. And in leadership, it's about the belief set that we have on. So, what am I believing about the world? What am I believing about myself and other people? And that has a huge, huge weight and significance for how we feel and how things are going. So, at a macro level, it could be, the world is a scary, bad place, and people are not trustworthy. And so, if you have that lens on, you're going to experience things in one way. Instead, you say, 'The world is generally a good place, and people are wanting to do good things for other people.' You're going to experience the world in a very different way. And there's lots of descriptions in between. But taking inventory of the lens you have on is a good step for anyone listening to this to say, 'Hmm, okay, there's only so much I control externally, but I have 100% control over my outlook and my approach to things.' So, I would have a look at that. Often, people have holdovers or holdover beliefs from childhood that were ingrained in them or instilled in them, or they just picked up naturally, which makes a lot of sense. But don't serve them well anymore. So, it might be time to set those things down.

Jeremy Cline 26:08
I'm conscious that there is a line between coaching and therapy, and that's a line that I don't want to cross. But there are going to be people who are in control of their own actions, and some people may well have made a succession of bad choices, which have gotten them to, shall we say, an unfortunate position, where, I guess, you've made a succession of bad choices, and you've reinforced perhaps a belief that you do make bad choices, and then start doubting your capability of making good choices and being able to turn this around. How can you turn something that around, when it has become perhaps quite ingrained?

Emily Sander 26:58
Sure. So, one quick note, you mentioned coaching and therapy. So, just to put it out there, for talking about depression, that is a real thing, and so, go get the help that you need for that. But if we're talking about, hey, we're in life, and things just aren't going our way, then you can certainly look back and look for evidence of you making good decisions. Because you probably weren't born making horrible decisions, you probably made some decent ones in your life. So, I would look back objectively, or maybe have a chat with a friend who knows you or someone who's known you, and say, 'Am I always making bad decisions?' And it's, 'No, you've actually made this one, this one, this one, these last couple have been kind of clunkers, but you're not a bad decision maker or a failure in and of yourself.' And then, I would say, okay, throw it in the failure loop, what can I learn and take away from these decisions, so I don't do them again, so I don't continue to do them? And then, what are some Belief 10 thoughts, where instead of 'I'm a horrible decision maker, I'm a failure', that's not going to get you the direction you want to go, so how do you reframe that and start talking to yourself in a way that's going to get you going the other direction? And along with that is the contact lenses, or what am I believing. So, if you believe that you are genuinely a failure, you're going to go out and your brain is trying to help you, and it's going to give you evidence for that. So, if your brain goes, 'Oh, she's a failure, let me give her evidence of that', you're going to show up in the world in certain ways. If instead you go, 'Nope, I'm a success, or I'm good at these things, or I am going to find this perfect career and perfect job', then your brain will go to work and go to action to find data points and evidence for you in that direction.

Jeremy Cline 28:40
It's the whole your thoughts determine your feelings, determine your actions thing, which is very easy to say. But my goodness, it can actually be quite hard to implement. But it is the thing that, I guess I really want to hammer this point home, you do have control over your thoughts, it is all inside you, inside your brain. You can train your brain to have more positive thoughts. So, that's the bit above all, that you do have control over.

Emily Sander 29:12
And I know where you're coming from, because I have folks who are like, 'Emily, it's so far away. It's so far away from where I'm at.' And in those cases, it is being open to the possibility that that could be out there, that other alternative or that other option could be out there. And just kind of leaving a little bit of room for that, even if you don't believe it, or you don't feel it 100% of the time, just leave that open, maybe it's a possibility. And if you want to back that up even one step further, just ask yourself the question, something like, 'Are there any other options? Or are there any other possibilities?' And even just asking the question, you don't have to answer it per se, but just asking that will open up some space for you.

Jeremy Cline 29:57
I want to bring this down a bit to someone, they're not in a 'I am a failure' thought process, there are lots of areas of their life where they really have succeeded. Maybe they've got kids they're proud of, they're in a very happy relationship with their spouse or partner, and lots of hobbies and things, all that sort of stuff, it goes well. But it's the job, the eight hours at work, where there, there's this real feeling of, 'I have not made the most out of my career.' And perhaps, there's someone who they're later in life, they're in their, say, mid 50s, so perhaps not that much longer until contemplating retirement, that kind of thing. If you are in that position in your career, is it ever too late? Do you just get to the stage where you just kind of resign yourself, 'Oh, well, I've only got five, seven, 10 years left of my working life, I'll just, you know', okay, the bigger that number gets, the less convinced I am by the answer, let's say somebody's got five years left of work, I mean, is there ever a point where you just kind of, to quote a previous guest, you just kind of mail it in, it's not for much longer, and just kind of, okay, that's it, that's my career?

Emily Sander 31:28
I would say no. I mean, there's so many different scenarios that, throw me a certain scenario, I might say yes. But generally, I would say no. I think that, even five years is a lot of time. So, doing something that you think is worthwhile of your time and your energy and your skill set is important. Maybe there's one situation, I'm trying to think of one where you're supporting someone, and they're needing medicine or something, and you just have to kind of stick with this job, because that's what's stable, and that's what you need for your family. So, you're consciously making that decision and that trade-off in that sense. So, maybe in that scenario, but in general, I think, if you're unhappy, and you mentioned this at the top of the interview, if you're dreading going to work on Sundays, and you get that angst and dread every Sunday, that's no way to live. That's rough. So, respect yourself and have people respect your time and energy and your value, and go find something that really lights your fire.

Jeremy Cline 32:33
And I like what you said, that five years is actually quite a long time, people don't always think in those terms, but actually, in a year, you can make significant changes, in five years, you can make some huge changes. You can completely change what you're doing, even if you're that person who has other responsibilities, you're looking after someone, there's bound to be some small course corrections that you can make, which will take you in a different, more positive direction.

Emily Sander 33:06
And I think, too, sometimes we go, 'Oh, I have to do this, because people are depending on me, and I want to be a good husband, wife', insert relationship there. And oftentimes, because your soul is getting sucked away at a certain job for eight to 10 or 12 hours a day, you are not showing up how you want to in other areas of your life. And so, don't trick yourself into thinking that, 'Oh, I'm really doing good for everyone by being in this horrible situation.' It's not serving you well, and it's probably not serving those around you well, and be cognizant of that as well. So, if we're talking five weeks, or even five months, people can do what they need to do. But if we're talking longer than that, and it's your wellness and happiness, then I would take that into serious consideration.

Jeremy Cline 33:52
I like that. It's almost like a sort of martyr syndrome. Oh, I'm just doing this for my family. Oh, I'm just doing this for someone else, and I'm making these sacrifices. And actually, that's not necessarily the case.

Emily Sander 34:06
Exactly. And I've had clients who stay in a job for decades, and they do it just kind of like, 'I just didn't want to change. It was a lot of work. It was scary. And now, I'm coming to you because I've racked up 22 years in this job, that I just took out of college because it was a job, and I just stayed in it, and I don't like it.' And we talked about making a change, but don't be that person who is just, 'I'll go with the status quo, and I know I'm not happy, but I'll just drag along.' Because five years will add up, and eventually, you'll get to decades, and that's your life.

Jeremy Cline 34:43
I'm aware that there is probably an awful lot more on this subject that we could talk, and we have pinged around a little bit, but is there anything, any sort of final point which we haven't covered, which you think would be really helpful for people just to consider on the subject of failure specifically, or in more general terms?

Emily Sander 35:05
It is a large topic. I think, aligning yourself, so my belief, you can agree with it or not, of course, but my belief is everyone has their unique skill set and gifting, you can tell some people are meant to be a musician. Not me, but some people are meant to be a musician. Some people are meant to be a footballer. You can just say it, that is their element, that's what they're meant to do. And I think that, if everyone were operating in their area of strength, at the top of their potential, the world would be a better place. I mean, that's not meant to be over-sentimentalised, it just would. Just think about, if everyone was achieving the top of their potential, even getting a little bit closer, that's a win for everybody. That's a win for the whole community. And so, I would encourage people to, even though it's scary, and even though society says we should do this and that, and even though family or friends might say, 'Oh, you should do this', if you're feeling compelled to do something that energises you, and that you're enthusiastic about, and that you think you can serve others well with, whether that's your direct team, or your direct customers, or just the people around you, you're serving your family and friends around you better, go do that. Life is short, go do that. So, I would just encourage people to break out of their kind of shallow change or whatever term you want to use there, but it's worth it. Just go do that.

Jeremy Cline 36:29
Do what you're good at and you enjoy doing.

Emily Sander 36:31
Yeah, there you go.

Jeremy Cline 36:32
I'll put that on a billboard. This has been brilliant. Thanks so much, Emily. If anyone wants to dive into the topic a bit more, do you have any books or other resources that you can point them in the direction of?

Emily Sander 36:45
Yes, so we talked about decision and outcomes. There's a great book called Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke. And she was a professional poker player, and she talked about the difference between the decision you make and the outcome. And people often conflate the two together, fuse the two together, and there's actually two distinct events that are happening. So, I'd recommend that one. There's the Confidence Gap, and I believe that's by Russ Harris. And that talks about, people often wait to feel competent before they do something, and in fact, it's the opposite, you have to go get experience, and then you will be become competent at that thing that you're doing. So, those are two good ones. Two more would be the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, I believe. And that just gives some great examples, we hear about compounding in terms of finance and saving for retirement, but this works in all areas of life, especially personal growth and development. So, invest in yourself now, and it'll compound, and you'll get the dividends over time. And then, Essentialism is probably my top book for leaders, Essentialism by Greg McKeown. And this is about time, management and mastery, and he has some tactical approaches in there, but also the mindset of how you want to look at different opportunities and how you want to use your time. And one of my favourite parts of that book is his notion of 'protect the asset'. And the asset is you. And so, that's a different way to say, or talk about self-care. And so, we talked about taking care of yourself, so you're better for other people. And he has a whole section on protecting the asset. And that's you.

Jeremy Cline 38:22
Brilliant. Well, as always, I will put links to all of those in the show notes for this episode. If people want to find you, where's the best place for them to go?

Emily Sander 38:32
My website is nextlevel.coach. So, nextlevel, all one word, dot coach. And I have some free resources people can download, you can read more about my book, Hacking Executive Leadership. And of course, if you're interested in coaching, then you can reach out to me directly there. And I also have all my social channels and links to those on the website as well.

Jeremy Cline 38:52
Brilliant. There will be links to that as well. Emily, thanks so much. This has been a really interesting conversation, quite a tricky subject to navigate. But thank you so much for coming on and navigating it so expertly.

Emily Sander 39:04
Thank you for having me.

Jeremy Cline 39:06
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Emily Sander. That we learn from our mistakes may well be true. It's also a bit of a cliche, and it doesn't really help you when you have just made a mistake, when you have failed at something, and you're feeling pretty bad about it. Yes, you can learn from it. Yes, you can apply those lessons going forward. But there is also having the right mindset to do that. And one of the important points that Emily mentioned is that you will have that dreadful feeling, and you don't need to deny that. You can have that feeling where you sit in the fact that something just hasn't gone well, as long as you can then get into the mindset of how you're going to use that information going forward. I will quite often see people online who describe themselves as a failure. But simply, it just isn't the case. These are people who are often in their 20s or 30s, who have absolutely loads of time to turn things around. Even later in life in your 40s, 50s, even 60s, 70s or older, there is still opportunity. You don't need to resign yourself to a state of affairs that you feel, 'Well, that's that.' So, I hope you found that interview with Emily helpful and useful. If you want to go back to anything we said, then you'll find a full transcript and show notes, and they are at changeworklife.com/143. That's changeworklife.com/143. And as we start to get to the end of 2022, I'd really like to hear from you as to what's going to be helpful for 2023. Are there any topics which you'd particularly like me to cover or guests you'd like me to interview? Are there any subjects which I've looked at before, which you'd like me to revisit? I want to make this the most useful career related podcast for you, and the best way I can do that is, well, if you tell me what it is you want. So, get in touch, it's changeworklife.com/contact, that's changeworklife.com/contact. There's a form there and fill that in, let me know what's going to be most useful for you for 2023. In the meantime, there's another great episode coming up in two weeks' time, so make sure you have subscribed to the show on your favourite podcast app, if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.

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