inspiration WISE women in computer science

Ambition, Failure, and my Favourite Podcast

plant growing out of some rocks
Credit: Pixabay / aKs_phOtOs

I was listening to the last episode of season 1 of my friend Diana’s podcast “Should We”, and the title of this one is called “Should We Actually Try?”

I love Should We because I love Diana, and because there’s something about listening to a podcast where two friends who know each other well are keeping it real (this was something that I was inspired by in the podcast Camille and I recorded). This episode is my favorite because it’s the realest yet – it’s about going for something you’re not sure that you can do, and about the fear of failure when failure is a very real possibility.

This is because they are running a Kickstarter for Season 2. I love the podcast as it is, but I’ve now backed it twice (somehow I have 2 Kickstarter accounts? Who knew?) because I want to support them, and because if I love this low-fi iPhone-in-a-cup version how much more would I love a professionally produced version?

But then at a meta-level, I want to support women who set an ambitious goal. I just started getting leadership coaching and the first thing we did was we went through this thing called “Discovery” where I was brutally honest about some things that hold me back. At some point I wrote about how there are opportunities I am afraid to take because I am too afraid to fail at them. Like Diana and Lisa I am all about the incremental progress, the gradual growing of something. This episode was so real to me because it captured the same approach I take… and the limitations of that.

I think for women the cost of failure is often really high – we avoid it for good reason. And one of the ways we pathologize the ambition of women is to take normal fear of failure, and the self-awareness of things we know we aren’t good at, and label it imposter syndrome. But actually if you are going to be ambitious, it’s normal that failure is a possibility. To take it seriously, consider what would be the outcome, and do it anyway… well it’s inspiring to me to listen to two women doing that, and to hear them being so honest about their fears of failure, and the ambition that they admit to in private, if not in public. I really hope they succeed – but if not, well, I’ll keep listening anyway.

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