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Failure as Necessity

Anna Baeten is our insightful, inspiring writer for the month of December. Below, she shares with us her perspective on failure and the role it has played in her life, along with a her exciting plans as she looks to 2024. Enjoy our conversation with the incredible Anna, and be sure to check out her full feature in this month's issue of En Root!

This month's theme is all about failure. Tell us how this theme has played a role in your personal or professional life.

Like everyone, I have a life filled with a full spectrum of failures - the never-ending borage of small daily failures and a few epic life-trajectory shifting ones. While it was not my first epic failure, the failure that sent me down a serious (and life-long) path of self-reflection, research, and discovery was my divorce. That was when I went from the survival-mode of strategically driving through failure to "the next logical step" as quickly as possible, to the deeper, more empathy-driven mode of trying to understand failure, stress, and discomfort more deeply.

At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe embracing failure can impact our perspective and influence our future decisions?

Destigmatizing and "embracing failure" means not just accepting failure as an inevitable part of the process. It means recognizing and accepting it as a NECESSARY part of any growth-oriented journey. If we can shift perspective and develop the skills to navigate failure and discomfort effectively, we will see better interactions, relationships, outcomes, and organizations.

What is one hard lesson you learned in this past year that contributed to your growth?

Talking the talk and walking the walk are two different skill sets and experiences. 2023 has been a challenging year for many people, including me. My entire professional life is about leadership development, tactical empathy, communication, change management, and navigating discomfort. And still, the actual work of navigating change, working through inherently difficult situations, and making hard decisions just sucks. No matter how skilled you get, it is still hard. You get better at it. You become more capable. You get better outcomes. But it is hard. Full stop.

What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2024 and beyond?

I am always looking to improve my understanding of complex adaptive systems. I find them fascinating and deeply related to my work.

What inspires you?

I am a voracious consumer of books, audiobooks, podcasts, and articles. That is definitely the foundation of my inspiration and interest; however, interacting with other people around interesting ideas is where the magic really happens.

At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in the next year?

There are SO many great books. I know you asked for one, but here are three books I recommend a lot: Burnout by Emily & Amelia Negoski, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics & Religion by Jonathan Haight, You're Not Listening by Kate Murphy

What's next? What are you excited about in the coming year?

I am very excited about Failure Lab's collaborative work. We are emphasizing partnered engagements in areas like human-centered design, equity & inclusion, and wellness. This gives us the opportunity to work with other great people and organizations, expanding our professional team, and increasing impact for all involved.

Anna Baeten is the Principal / Director of Organizational Training at Failure Lab Training. Her areas of passion include: Founders & Organizational Scaling, Organizational & Operational Strategy, Women & BIPOC Leadership Development & Amplification, Justice-Foward Systems Change, Human-Centered Leadership & Organizational Culture, Participatory Curriculum Design, and Marketing & Communication.


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