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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

3 mistakes I made in my early career [Wise Wednesdays]

It was my eleventh interview. It was 2003 and I’d tried and failed to get my dream job ten times.

My peers were sailing through their interviews or going for less competitive jobs. It felt like hell sometimes. But something told me to keep going. At the end of the final interview, I had that feeling that it went well. That the opportunity had arrived. When I got the offer, I knew that a new phase had begun. After that episode in my early career, I got my subsequent dream jobs on the first interview. (If you’re going through interviews right now, here’s a Wise Wednesdays where I share the top 3 questions you must be able to answer and will help you master the interview process.) While I wouldn’t change anything about my experience, with hindsight there are 3 mistakes I made at the time. Here’s what I learned: 1) I tried to be like others (don’t) I always knew I wanted to work on public health at international level. But I was told that this wouldn’t be an acceptable answer while applying for hospital rotations and not to mention it. So my answers were vague and unconvincing when I was asked what my long term plans were. Guess what? It didn’t help. I wear my heart on my sleeve and hiding my passion was a very bad look on me… 2) I gave myself a hard time (no need) If you’re an independent, high achiever, you’re always going to fall into perfectionism and hate failure. Failing ten times in a row (while everyone else seemed to be getting on) was torture. It didn’t kill me and it definitely made me stronger. But I believe that the moments of soothing and compassion helped as much as if not more than the hard work and perfectionism. And most of us don’t get enough true soothing and compassion. I believe we’d achieve a lot more of the right things with a bit more self-compassion. 3) I went on courses rather than getting coaching (choose well) Whether it was the insightful comment from my boss, the timely encouragement in a moment of despair from my parents or vulnerable interview practice with a friend, it’s these timely, powerful interventions that created the deeper shifts in perspective and mindset that made the biggest difference. It wasn’t the interview courses or communication books although they helped. But it’s the deep conversations, exposure of blind spots and release of old patterns that helped me break through. Take a 30,000-foot view of your life. What do you see? I see life unfolding through certain patterns with a core motivation to grow and contribute. Sometimes it’s a straight line, sometimes it’s a bowl of spaghetti. Your ability to keep going while facing hell is a masterful capacity. Your emotions – with their ups and downs - will give you information but will never dictate your choices. Your vision and values will guide you and bring you to exactly where you need to be. But if you fall off the wagon that’s OK too. There are no mistakes in the end, only lessons that help us grow. What life lesson you can share with others today? Have a great week, Amina p.s. Join us on the 24th to dive into the "dark" emotions. The past two years have brought many challenges. We'll explore how to hold grief, anger and sadness while getting on with life. Bring a colleague and come! Registration here:

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