The Exclusive Career Coach

The Exclusive Career Coach

185: Borrowing from Brene Brown's FFTs to Reframe Your Job Situation

July 07, 2021

I wanted to let you know that I’ve moved to a once-a-month webinar format, held on the third Thursday of the month at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. The topic is different each month, and I jam-pack them full of content.

To learn about the next webinar:

I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown’s work, and I love her concept of FFTs. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that I don’t say anything that wouldn’t be suitable for all audiences, so I’ll start by saying that FFTs stands for “F’ing First Time.”

Brené talks about FFTs in the framework of doing something new. Of challenging ourselves…of evolving to the next level in our development as a human.

Which got me thinking…what do FFTs look like in the framework of our jobs? When we are given a new task…asked to work in a new way…learn a new skill?

Here are her five steps for FFTs; I want to break each down for you:

1.    Name it

2. Develop perspective

3. Adjust expectations

4. Build in rest & recovery

5. Get in top FFT shape

1. Name it

Let’s say you have been given a huge new assignment at work with gigantic implications. You feel completely unprepared for this level of responsibility – you have, after all, only managed small teams and small budgets before.

For the Name It phase, it is important to name the “newness” of this new responsibility. Your list might look something like this:

-There will be 15 people on my team, and I’ve never managed more than 2 people before

-This budget is 4X larger than the most I’ve ever managed

-There is so much riding on the success of this project

-I don’t know why they thought I could do this

-I’m afraid I’ll fail and lose my job

The important thing here is that you are bringing the monsters out into the light. The first step in neutralizing fear is to recognize the source of that fear.

2. Develop perspective

If you have never done something before, it’s natural to believe you aren’t qualified and may fail. The point in this step is to think through things like:

-Worst-case scenario

-Taking stock of what you do bring to the table

-Recognizing the faith someone has put in you by assigning this task to you

It’s a very useful exercise to think about “what if I do fail and get fired?” Not because you are planning to fail and get fired, but because you’ll see that this worst-case scenario isn’t the end of the world.

By taking stock in what you bring to this project, you are hopefully focusing on your strengths rather than what you DON’T have. This should help you reinforce your self-belief.

If you don’t believe in yourself at this moment, it can be helpful to “borrow” the faith of the person who has entrusted you with this project. For that matter, who are your cheerleaders – those who believe in you no matter what? Spend time around those people so you can siphon off some of their belief in you.

3. Adjust expectations.

Is 100% success, with no hiccups, a realistic expectation for this project? Probably not.

It is important to find the perfect balance between believing in yourself and being realistic about what you are being asked to do.

Perhaps setting a goal to complete the projects within 10% of budget is reasonable. Sure, you’d like perfection – but at what cost? The project might actually be better – and stay on time – by allowing for some errors and mistakes.

You may also need to adjust expectations with your boss. If you have realistically assessed the project scope and know you can’t do it without 2 more project members, then ASK for what you need.

You will also want to adjust expectations with the other project members. How will success be measured? When should they come to you for help? How will you support them? Make sure everyone involved is reading off the same sheet of music.

4. Build in rest & recovery.

FFTs wear us out. We’re using new muscles, our brain is working in new ways, we’re interacting with new people, and making new kinds of decisions daily.

FFTs require rest & recovery. Depending on the FFT, this could mean daily R&R, time off mid-project, or a vacation afterward.

Don’t ignore your needs…this is a marathon, not a sprint. Be kind to yourself.


5. Get into top FFT shape.

There are things you can do right before you begin something new, such as reading up on how to do the new task, rearranging your schedule so everything else in your life is under control, asking for help at home or at work, or simply getting a good night’s sleep.

Other ways of getting into top FFT shape might take longer and will require you to anticipate your needs. If, for example, you want to start managing projects, what class or certification can you start now to be better prepared?

A good way to anticipate your FFT needs is to meet with your boss on another, more senior person in your company. Tell them your professional goals and ask for their input into how you can begin preparing to take on new roles, responsibilities, and leadership now.

If you are mid-project and realize you aren’t in top FFT shape, there are strategies to address this as well. For example, if you realize there’s a skill gap in your team, you might choose to read up on that skill, ask others about that skill, or ask your boss for a SME to step in to help with that skill. There will always been unanticipated “hiccups” in FFTs, so your ability to make mid-course corrections will be essential.

Are you in the wrong job that chips away at you every day? The CareerSpring coaching program will help you find a job that uses your zone of genius, recognizes your value, and pays you what you’re worth.

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