I didn’t get through…

Last week I found out that I wasn’t through to the finals of the Local Government Challenge and I was more upset than I had anticipated. I knew it was going to be a close call as to whether I would get through, as all the competitors were exceptional but it still didn’t take away the pain or the shame of losing out on this experience. 

However, when I step back, there are some significant things that I can take from this experience and I want to share them here with you…

Growth Mindsetgrowth mindset

Something I’ve learnt about myself recently is that I lean towards having a fixed mindset. This leads to sweeping assumptions of myself  and beliefs that they are set in stone (‘I’m a failure’, ‘I’m not good at directions’). It is so tempting to play small in life so I don’t have to think or feel like a failure.

However, I’ve started to tiptoe into the growth mindset camp and it’s such a happier place to live. Just thinking about the phrase ‘when I fail, I learn’ opens the floodgates for the learning that has taken place over the past months of being in the Local Government Challenge, and they make me realise that this experience wasn’t a ‘failure’ and neither am I:

  • My great asset is my personality – people like and trust me. I should use this strength more at work
  • Trust your instinct more Amy! You’ve done it a bit in the competition and this was a good learning curve
  • Don’t worry what other people are doing, just focus on your own contribution

I could either use this experience to shut myself off and brand myself a loser or to push myself on…and I know which I want to use…so on I go!

It’s ok to be vulnerable and to feel

I like to think I’m someone who doesn’t mind expressing my emotions…but this experience has highlighted how this only really applies to when I feel comfortable with the emotions I’m sharing. I’m happy to show giddying happiness, or gentle sadness but not to show my ugly, painful, dark emotions; like the dark shame of not getting through to the final. It’s like these emotions are so raw that I’m afraid it would be too painful for someone else to touch them…

However, when I’ve shared these emotions with the people at work and in my personal life, their words have been like balm to my soul and I’ve started to witness what might be possible if only I would open myself up more to others.

So I’m going to remove myself from the brittle tower where I back myself into a corner and keep on repeating, despite the hurt in my heart, “I’m ok” and instead try a little bit to open myself up to truly feel the pain of not being ok. It hurts, but it’s not crippling. There’s a pain there – I can’t deny that – but it doesn’t defeat or totally define me.

Maybe it’s ok to be vulnerable and maybe it’s ok to feel.

I’m an explorer

I’ve enjoyed meeting people from different councils who are completing roles that are completely different from my own – commissioners, communications, housing, IT…it has opened my eyes up to the many and varied roles in Local Government and has given me an appetite to try new things.

This isn’t to say that I’m going to leave HR tomorrow but it has tuned me into the curiosity and imagination I had as a child and how I long to learn more about different people in my organisation. I’d like to shadow an Operations Manager in a day centre, learn about what our Democratic Services Team do on a daily basis, explore what Trading Standards people get up to…because I’ve learnt so much during my 9 days on the local government challenge and can only imagine what I could learn from 9 conversations with people in my own council.

I love me

The times I feel I haven’t shone in the competition were due to the fire other people could ignite at a moment’s notice, where as I am more of a slow burner…I mull on things and contemplate and build a full picture in my head. This isn’t to say that I can’t move quickly or turn things around when I’ve got a deadline…but I shine the brightest when I have time to contemplate and kindle my thoughts. So I’m going to actually retract that first statement: The times I feel I haven’t shone in the competition were due to the fire other people could ignite at a moment’s notice and replace it with another one:

I’ve learnt I shine in a different way. Instead of igniting bright and quick, I create a slow burn that grows with momentum over time. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. And I like different.

I could be hard on myself and berate myself for all the things I am not…but this would be an act of self-hatred. I’ve done this before and I don’t want to go there anymore.

I am me, I can’t change who I am at my core and so I’ve come to an agreement with myself right now that I am not going to berate myself, I’m not going to unpick all the things I could or should have done if only I was a different person.

I brought my whole self to this experience, I shone my light, I showed my love for people, I contributed and was my best I could be in each and every moment and I believe I made the competition a better one for having competed in it…but most of all – the most crucial – is that I’m standing here now knowing that I love myself that little bit more than I did before, that I appreciate myself a little bit more than I did before, and that is a win in my books.

Winner of the Local Government Challenge – no I’m not.

Winner in life – yes I am.

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