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Fail Fast, Fail Often

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Today I had a student following me around the clinic and it brought back memories…

Memories of frustration, confusion, and fear. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying the student showed any of these emotions. But, her presence definitely brought back memories of my own.

As we discussed the patients, I started remembering the lack of confidence I would display as I met patients for the first time. I was timid and unsure of myself. Which, in turn, would make the patients unsure of the care they just received.

I would also second guess myself whenever I was asked a question, and I noticed she had the same tendency. It was like she knew the answer, but was scared to verbalize it. After she realized I wasn’t going to tell her – the answer would flow out of her mouth as if by magic.

See, she knew the information – but wasn’t confident in herself. I think we’ve all been there (I know I have). But what is it that causes this fear?

I think for a lot it’s the fear of coming across as inadequate. The fear of making a mistake.

But, most of the time, these are fallacies made up in our own mind. The vast majority will not care that you made a mistake and they will not think of you as inadequate.

She asked me if I was scared seeing patients after only my second quarter of PA school.

My response:  “of course I was scared!”

She also asked if my preceptor would see every patient – he didn’t. I quickly realized I would have to make mistakes and I would feel inadequate. But, once you have put yourself in that place once – you can put yourself in that place again…and again..and again…

Eventually, you’ve done it so many times that the fear begins to fade. Eventually, you start to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Once you can rid yourself of this fear, anxiety, hesitation, or whatever you wish to call it – then you can truly begin to learn and grow.

But, if you are always holding back, then it is almost impossible to reach your full potential.

The best advice I can give you is to fail fast and to fail often. But, don’t do it in vain. A failure is only a failure if you don’t learn from it.

Go out there, give it everything you’ve got, and change the world.

Andrew