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Employee Spotlight: Breena Li, on Overcoming the Fear of Making Mistakes

In an academic setting, learning consisted of taking notes in lecture halls, doing homework, and taking tests. Up until recently, I’ve mainly learned alone in the comfort of my room. There wasn’t an incentive to learn with others because study groups weren’t productive for me and many of the activities I indulged in, such as creating birthday cards and attempting nail art, didn’t necessitate a need to learn with someone. Learning independently also meant that I didn’t have to confront my fear of making mistakes in front of those whose opinions I valued most.

Learning alone meant that I got to avoid looking incompetent and feeling embarrassed in front of others; however, it also restricted what I could learn. When I was cooking for others, I would strictly follow a recipe. But when I was home alone, I often experimented with recipes and tried to make them my own. After hearing this, my significant other encouraged me to experiment with my cooking when we were together. Of course, he didn’t forget to throw in the light-hearted jokes about having high expectations. I realized that the worst thing that could happen would be a brief moment of embarrassment followed by a lot of laughter and take-out food for dinner. Moments like these helped me to understand that mistakes are simply opportunities to learn, regardless of whether there are others around to witness them.

Since starting my career at EvalCorp as the Project Assistant, I’ve been able to further practice allowing my curiosity to take precedence over my fear of making mistakes, and to take any critique as a lesson for the future. The change in perspective has motivated me to take on tasks that pique my interest or seem like intimidating challenges, such as formatting reports, corresponding with clients, and managing a year’s worth of project data. From immersing myself in different types of projects and tasks, I’ve been able to learn more about myself, and to continually learn and refine skills to better support my team.

For those who can relate to the fear of making mistakes, I want to emphasize that learning is more than just acquiring a particular skill or knowledge. Learning is about making priceless memories and strengthening bonds with the people in your life. I know first-hand that getting comfortable with making mistakes around others will allow you to tackle challenges without hesitation. I am excited to see how this revelation will change the course of my personal and professional development.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.“

– Peter Drucker

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