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PEP TALK: Failing Forward to Help Achieve Your IDOL Dreams

#becomeanidol #careerchange #careerpivot #doitmessy #education #elearning #idolcom #idolcourses #impostersyndrome #instructionaldesign #motivation Dec 02, 2021


Trying to take a drink from a fire hose. 

That is how I felt when I first joined the IDOL courses Academy

The content was coming at me so fast and furious, it was hard to keep up. But if there is one thing I have learned over the last three cohorts of being an IDOL, the only way to learn is to dig in just like learning anything else. 

After spending years in public education, I find myself having to practice what I preached. I used to encourage the #doitmessy way before I knew it as a hashtag. When I coached student reporters on how to write journalistically, I would encourage them to write down whatever was going through their minds and accept that it would be their worst version. Because the beauty of learning isn’t in the first draft, it is in all the editing and iterations that follow.



Although I have experience encouraging learners through their worst versions of their work, it doesn’t stop my perfectionistic ways from creeping in. I remember sludging through the #doitmessy challenge thinking how uncomfortable the whole process was. 

“Does this look ok?”

“Are these colors providing enough contrast?”

“Does the navigation look right?”

“Will a learner engage with this?”


I wanted a lot of validation, yet I found myself afraid to share my work with fellow IDOLs. I was torn between loving what I created and knowing I needed to hear how it could be better.

With instructional design being creative in its own right, we are attached to our assets. We have sunk our grit and determination in what shred of free time we have to put into it. We don’t want to hear our masterpiece is ugly -- or in this case, not learner-friendly.

But that was the point. This is very much what it is like on the job. When you are in an IDOL role, you will receive lots of feedback on everything you do because ultimately the deliverable isn’t yours; you are providing a service for the stakeholder you work for. 



I find myself swallowing a bit of my own advice I once gave others: your growth begins at the end of your comfort zone. And while I roll my eyes at that cliché as a learner, I have accepted I need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to grow in this field.

In my IDOL role, I have received lots of feedback on my work, similar to the fire hose idiom. Because my work is a collaboration representing the L&D team of which I am a member, it represents all of us. So I welcome those suggestions and found that I love to track the iterations to see how much a deliverable can grow to be so much better over time.

So be bold and reach out to a mentor to get some feedback on an asset you worked so hard on. The IDOL courses Academy provides many levels of feedback from peer-feedback and coach feedback. Coaches review assets from a hiring manager perspective and push you to grow. If you are an Academy member submit a request for a coach to look at your masterpiece. IDOL mentors and coaches are not unreachable, they want to be part of the journey with us. Once I learned how to embrace feedback, I also found out how they want to help us achieve it.



While it does hurt to receive rejections after applying for jobs and interviewing, force yourself to take a step back and figure out what led them to say no to you. Use this time for quality reflection. You are not less of a person because they didn’t hire you. There is not a magic formula to figure out how the decision was made because every hiring manager is different.

Right after I went through each interview, I stayed secluded with my computer and typed out as much as I could remember about what each interviewer asked, what I asked, and the responses to both to keep on file. I would even return to it later when I recall additional details to add. Going back through these responses may help you see with fresh eyes what happened and how you can better answer a question for the next interview.

Have another brain review your resume or go through your interview responses. If you receive a rejection notice, while it does feel awful, work to find the gratitude of that moment. I was always relieved to hear something as ghosting applicants -- even after multiple rounds of interviews -- unfortunately, is common practice. Consider this as one rejection closer to you landing your IDOL role. 

After all the analysis, you may not arrive at a why. The reason may not even be you, it could be another candidate who knows someone in the company, or a budget got cut for that position. But work to not get distracted by rejection, continue to be relentless in your pursuit of chasing your IDOL dreams. 



To be rejected means you are failing forward. And while those failures may feel awful, you are growing through the repetition that is giving you invaluable experience. And in the process, you are networking, getting better at reading job descriptions, tailoring your resume to ensure it is seen beyond the ATS. 

You will also gain more confidence with each interview. While it feels awkward, you need to be put on the spot to answer questions you weren’t prepared for. And those answers you do know from preparation will start to reassure you are on the right track. 

No one wants to interview with multiple companies and recruiters but it is part of the process. With the experience, you will gain ground on selling yourself, and start tracking common questions asked among companies. While it is easy to get discouraged, especially when you are ready to make a career pivot, force yourself to stay in a growth mindset as much as you can. Seek support through from your network.



There have been times I questioned am I fit to see this through. But I remind myself, just like what I built in my last career, I didn’t get here overnight. When I remember to back off being so hard on myself and allow grace to fill the void, it really helps me realign and pace myself. 

Author and speaker Ed Mylett frequently posts this on his social media channels, “It is from your experiences that you draw strength. Strength builds character. And character teaches you how to stay in the game, even when you might feel like giving up.”

Whether it is the portfolio work, getting feedback, or going through the job search process, doing the work is important as those are the experiences from which you will draw strength. Mentor Niya Jay gives pep talks during every session that always fire me up. One in particular resonated with me while on the job hunt. She said to use the acronym P.U.S.H. -- Push (or Pray) Until Something Happens. 


Keep persisting.

Keep dreaming.

Keep learning. 


When you accept that first job offer, you’ll be so grateful for the journey that led you to that yes. 



Connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn.

Rebecca is an instructional designer and former public educator. She has more than 20 years of experience in creating engaging learning experiences for diverse populations. She landed her dream ID role after being a member of the 6th cohort of the IDOL courses Academy. Rebecca also works as a freelance consultant and loves mentoring student media advisers. When she isn’t attached to a laptop, she spends her free time outdoors, traveling, or with family, friends, or her dogs.