The next time you feel that you’ve royally messed something up at work, avoid self-flagellation and think about what you can learn from it. Don’t interpret setbacks as “I’m not cut out for this challenge.” Instead, tell yourself, “I haven’t yet developed the required capabilities for it.” Framing the setback this way will not only help your self-esteem but also allow you to candidly reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Those insights will help you set challenging learning goals and experiment with alternate strategies. You can make sure you stay in learning mode by worrying less about demonstrating your ability to perform certain tasks and focusing more on your development. When taking on a new challenge, ask yourself, “Am I in learning mode right now?” The question will prime you to stay open to what you can discover, rather than diagnosing your inadequacies.
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