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  • Jenni Schierman

DON’T BE AFRAID TO FALL: WHY FAILURE IS YOUR BIGGEST GIFT



I just finished watching the recent Brene Brown commencement address to the University of Texas at Austin’s 2020 graduates. See the video here if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. It’s really worth the 20 minutes it takes to watch. In her address she talks about the idea that we shouldn’t be afraid to fall because from those failures have come her greatest lessons, learnings and gifts. I this week’s blog I want to dive a little deeper into that idea with some of my own experiences.

A PERSONAL REFLECTION

As I listened to Brene’s story, I reflected back on my own struggles and times I have fallen down over the course of my life and career. I especially identified with her early struggle to finish her degree. I went to college right out of high school to study Psychology. Like a lot of new high school graduates, I thought I had the whole world figured out.

I was going to get my Bachelors, then my Masters, and roll right into my Doctorate. I intended to either specialize in adolescent or behavior Psychology and then would open up my own practice after graduation. Easy right? It sure sounded like it. That is until life started happening to me.

I had several people close to me pass away in the course of a year. First my Grandma Clara, who I was really close to. Then my cousin was killed in an automobile accident. Finally, an ex-boyfriend died in another automobile accident a few months later. I lost motivation to go to class and left college.

It would be ten years before I would have the money, time and motivation to try again. I had made a pretty successful go in the insurance industry. I was working for Prudential and they were paying a fair amount of my tuition. So, I enrolled in a program for working adults. Excited to be back pursuing my degree again. Until I started dating someone that lived out of the area and things got serious. Because he had a business that couldn’t be moved the decision was made that I would relocate. School was put on the back burner again.

When that relationship ended a few years later, I moved back to Minnesota and I still wanted to finish my degree. I also had set in motion the plans to move to California when my lease was up. I had made the decision that I was done with winters and I was off to the west coast. My degree would have to wait a bit longer.

I ended up in San Jose where I lived for a couple years. Then moved a bit south to Pismo Beach after I was offered an opportunity to work at a winery in Los Olivos. Eventually ending up in South Orange County working for Kawasaki Motors Corp, U.S.A in 2016. Finally, again in a position where I could have some employer support, I headed back to school. This time in an online environment and with a solid plan to finish.

I graduated with my Bachelors in May of 2019. I immediately rolled into a Master’s program in Executive Coaching & Consulting. I am set to graduate in May of 2021. I’m already looking at Doctorate programs in Sports Psychology. It is amazing once you are in the right mindset what you can accomplish.

GETTING BACK UP

If I told you about every setback or disappointment during the pursuit of my degree this blog would be twice the length. As I looked back it was easy to see the lessons. When you are in the midst of it, sometimes it isn’t as easy. There has never really been a time in my life, even the really hard times, where I have said I have regrets. I truly believe I needed to learn the lessons in order to have the greater understanding.

During the course of the pursuit of my degree I have moved (many times), been fired, lost loved ones including my Mom, ended relationships (many of them painful). I have even had health issues including those caused by my own driven nature and desire to succeed. In 2018 I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and a hormone disorder. Another setback, but also another opportunity to reset and reevaluate what was important.

Brene Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure”. I think in order to truly benefit from your trip around this earth you need to live with uncertainty, risk and without fear of emotional exposure. For those of you that race, you live with uncertainty and risk every time you strap on a helmet. I challenge you to live the rest of your life with the same openness for risk.

THE GIFT

If I would have finished my degree all those years ago and gone on to the path I originally set out on I suspect I wouldn’t know most of you. My plan didn’t include working in the motorsports industry. It didn’t include travel from race to race and meeting tons of new people. It didn’t include meeting my best friend at Daytona in 2012. It didn’t include working for Kawasaki corporate or Nissan USA. I probably wouldn’t have pursued coaching.


So, if you're having a hard time right now because you just fell down. Maybe things aren’t going your way or how you expected...I get it. It totally sucks in the moment. I just wanted to share with you a little bit about my own story because sometimes your plan, the way you think things should go, isn’t really the best result for you. Better days are coming my friends.

NEXT STEPS

I would like to be a resource. I know reframing a negative into a positive can sometimes be a challenge. If you need help with this, lets talk. Book a call.



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