The Struggle Bus – Part 1

This week’s post comes from Scott Peterson.

Have you ever heard the term “the struggle bus”? If not, let me enlighten you. What it means is that a task/event/meeting was more difficult than you had planned and it did not go well (e.g. feels like you are running in mud). Just a couple of weeks ago I was not only on this bus, I was driving it. Not a good feeling. I was leading a meeting that ended up going differently than what I thought (or hoped) it would. The general purpose of this meeting was about brainstorming, exploring and getting feedback from the group. I got caught up in the moment and fell into the trap of “get ‘er done” and lost sight of the original purpose.

That night and the next morning I kept thinking about that meeting. Finally, I asked myself, “Should I embrace this, hide it or ignore it?” I also thought back to some encouraging feedback about failures I received from two EIL grads in the last 6 weeks. While talking about failure doesn’t always sound encouraging, their examples made a huge difference for me, so I want to share them with you:

1. One person sent me a quote from a fortune cookie that said, “Failure is feedback. And feedback is the breakfast of champions.” They included a note that encouraged me to continue pushing people to give and ask for feedback. I also love the idea (even though it’s scary) to look at failure as feedback by reflecting on it and learning from it.

2. Another grad shared a story of how they felt like they failed at EIL during a role playing section about corrective feedback and sidetracks. My role was to be the person who needed corrective feedback and they asked me to be defensive about what I was hearing — so I used my Oscar-worthy acting skills. I ended up derailing that person from giving me the intended corrective feedback during that exercise. More than a year later that person sent me an email to say thank you for that experience; that’s because that (perceived) failure allowed them to learn more, be more prepared and ultimately more successful with giving corrective feedback when it really counted.

Back to the question — Embrace it, hide it or ignore it? As Paul Harvey used to say (for those of you who are a little younger than me, Paul Harvey was a big-time talk radio personality from the 60’s-90’s), “Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story…..”


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