44: Failing Forward & the Courage to Try New Things

by Jen Barna MD | Physician Coaching, Podcast, Resilience

“We’re kind of wired as humans to grow and to live our most meaningful, richest, flourishing life when we step out of that comfort zone, step out of the box and break the cycle of monotony in our lives by being willing to try new things.” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

In this episode of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast, Coaches Gabriella Dennery MD and Jill Farmer talk about having the courage to try new things and why that is so important. So when was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something new? Recently? Awesome! But if you’ve just been going through the motions lately, this episode is for you. Remember to give yourself grace through the process, let go of perfectionism and have fun! 

“Most of the time when people come to me with great fear and trepidation and all kinds of reasons why it’s a terrible idea to try something new, it’s because they’re convinced that if they’re not certain whatever it is will be a wild success or they’re going to be perfect at it, they feel like something is wrong and therefore they shouldn’t try it. So a lot of my encouragement and coaching is around when somebody has this kind of spark or inspiration to want to try something new and then the other part of the brain that is saying, ‘Don’t try something, you’re not going to get this right, you’re going to screw this up.’ They tend to want to default and listen to the voice of doubt or inner critic, the part of them that is saying, ‘You can’t do it’ and pull back into that safe place. The problem with that is, of course, we’re kind of wired as humans to grow and to live our most meaningful, richest, flourishing life when we step out of that comfort zone, step out of the box and break the cycle of monotony in our lives by being willing to try new things. So the price of admission for letting that caution voice always be the one telling you that it’s uncertain, unsafe, better not try it, which is really strong in doctors and I love that a lot of doctors have a really strong voice of caution to try to keep everything safe for those that they’re serving. We’re not asking you to change that part of you that has prudence and caution. It’s just to recognize that sometimes that can be a little over developed when it comes to things in your life that have lower stakes potentially that you could try and develop. And the price of admission for that is that you lose the reward of mastering new things, playing with new things, learning new things when you stay stuck in those old ways.” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“I think you bring up an important point. How do you distinguish between the caution that you need to exercise at work to make sure that you mitigate risk for your patients and for your colleagues etc. etc. and what happens at home and outside of work? The ability to avail yourself of new ideas and new opportunities and a quality of life that may be different. You know, to expand your quality of life. It’s easier to take that work philosophy home. So to be able to separate the two, I think it’s about stepping out of the comfort zone. It’s like, ‘Ok it’s safe for me to try in-line skating now because I don’t have to do that at work. I can do that at home. Yes, I may crash a few times and I’ll need a few Band-Aids and I may look foolish. No, I won’t master the first time on those skates, but I get to have a little fun and to learn something new that I’ve been curious about.’ It’s kind of a mundane example, but a lot of times it’s about knowing that work is work and play is play or outside of work is outside of work. It may not necessarily be play, it may be other things that you’re interested in. So what do you think in terms of coaching and in terms of encouraging somebody to try something new, whether it’s at work or in other situations? Is it fair to say that part of the encouragement is to say, ‘You’re not necessarily going to be great at it right away?’ How do you approach that perfectionism, that need to get it right, that need to master everything right off the bat? And is it more of a need to impress somebody or to make sure it’s done right as opposed to going into the situation with the curiosity of a child, with that growth/learning mentality which says there may be times when I’m going to suck and that’s ok? What has been your experience with that and trying to push people out of that comfort zone?” Coach Gabriella Dennery MD

“Well, what I like to tell people is there’s just a lot of brain science behind the idea that when we have a growth mindset, which is what the work of the masters in positive psychology, which is really the science of success, positive psychology isn’t about being a peppy person, it’s how do we work with people who are on the well side of the psychological scale and help them thrive instead of just surviving. And one of the things we know about that science of success is that people who have a growth mindset, which means they look at a challenge or something new as an opportunity to learn, they are happier and more successful than people who look at challenges with a fixed mindset, which is what I call problem stalling instead of problem-solving. ‘Here’s all the reasons that it’s going to be hard and I’m not going to be great at it and I might make a mistake.’ So we know in that science of success also, that we have to set ourselves up to be allowed to make mistakes because mistakes are how we revamp. I’m not talking about mistakes that are going to harm patients, obviously. Since we’re talking to physicians here, we understand that we’re not encouraging that. But I find a lot of physicians are really uncomfortable with setting themselves up or making space for making mistakes anywhere and being willing to revamp and being willing to use those mistakes as data. I know you’ve heard me say it before, but I love what Richard Branson has said about the reason that he’s so wildly successful. It’s because he has a bigger capacity for failure and he kind of likes it when things go wrong because he feels like that’s how he learns how to make things go right. I think that’s what you were talking about. Making some space for mistakes to happen. Because that’s data that can help whatever it is we’re learning new and be more in line with what we want it to look like. And that’s how we grow and actually thrive. When we have that setback, reconfigure, move forward motion, that’s a really good place for humans to thrive.” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

“Absolutely. You’re absolutely right about that. Because part of it and just speaking from experience being on wards and emergency rooms and CCU’s, it can potentially be a very judgemental environment and you don’t want to make mistakes. Clearly for the sake of your patients and at the same time it’s about how your colleague is judging you or how the chief is judging you or the chair is judging you. There’s always a process of evaluation, of testing, of performance. So yes, getting out of your comfort zone in other arenas of your life or even in a career track or a different career choice can become difficult because of that fear of judging, that fear of being judged and being looked at in a certain way. You want to do the right thing, but what is the right thing? That is really still a very subjective thing. So to be able to allow yourself to just take a breath. To allow yourself to say, ‘You know what? I’m on a learning curve.’ For example, podcasting for me, although as much as I love it and enjoy it, it’s still very new and I’m still on that learning curve. I’ve still got a lot to learn and I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes. At the same time it’s learning how to enjoy that process. To fail forward instead of just seeing it as falling backwards and not trying again. So we get back on the horse. And yes, if it risks looking silly for a little while or sounding totally crazy for a while, that’s ok, too. So it’s being ok with making mistakes. I think that’s the point that I 

think is a really really important point for why it is important to muster up the courage to try new things. You have to be ok to not be perfect and great with making mistakes and even relish in making mistakes so that you can learn and love it and laugh about it and say, ‘Wow, look at what it was six months ago compared to what it is today.’ And you enjoy the learning curve. You’re able to just flourish in the learning curve itself. So that’s what I love about it.” -Coach Gabriella Dennery MD

Other blog posts you may enjoy:

Physician Burnout: Proactive Steps You Can Take Today

Physician Coaching Can Expedite Your Path Toward a Brighter Future Without Burnout

Get One-on-One Coaching with Coach Gabriella Dennery MD

Get One-on-One Coaching with Master-Certified Coach Jill Farmer

DocWorking believes the time has come to prioritize the health and wellness of physicians.

Professional coaching is transformational. Elite athletes, award-winning actors and top-performing executives all know this, which is why they embrace coaching to achieve such extraordinary success. Leading corporations also know this, which is why they encourage coaching for employees at every level. Smart leaders leverage the power of coaching to achieve outcomes that are meaningful, measurable, and attainable.

Our Coaches Will Show You How!

We have exciting news! Our live course, STAT: Quick Wins to Get Your Life Back is coming soon! Life is too short to be stretched so thin. Do you want more time to focus on what matters most to you? Our power packed plan fits easily into your busy day! Coaches Gabriella and Jill have taken all their best strategies from coaching hundreds of physicians over multiple years and folded them into one efficient course. You can easily practice these bite-sized strategies on your timeline: anytime, anywhere. Are you ready to invest in yourself, reclaim your time and minimize stress? Click here!

To learn more about DocWorking, visit us here!

Are you a physician who would like to tell your story? Please email Amanda, our producer at [email protected] to apply.

And if you like our podcast and would like to subscribe and leave us a 5 star review, we would be extremely grateful!

We’re everywhere you like to get your podcasts! Apple iTunesSpotifyiHeart RadioGoogle, Pandora, PlayerFMListenNotesAmazonYouTubePodbean

Some links in our blogs and show notes are affiliate links, and purchases made via those links may result in small payments to DW. These help toward our production costs. Thank you for supporting DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast!

Occasionally, we discuss financial and legal topics. We are not financial or legal professionals. Please consult a licensed professional for financial or legal advice regarding your specific situation.

Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Board-certified practicing radiologist, founder and CEO of DocWorking, and host of top ranked DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast

You May Also Like….