Do you remember smiley-face stickers and gold stars? In elementary school, some of my teachers loved putting them on papers before handing them back.
We still get stickers now, as adults, especially at work: praise from colleagues, feedback from bosses, promotions, raises, and more. Whenever I fail, it’s like I’ve lost a sticker, or been given one with a frowny-face.
In my experience, working with gracious colleagues, the frowny-face is internal. It’s not that someone else gets mad at me when I fail, it’s that I get mad at myself. My own inner critic is a hard taskmaster, one that’s performance-oriented rather than growth-oriented.
Think about the last time you tried for something important at work, and it didn’t go well. Who was your worst critic?