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Why You Need to Get Publicly Embarrassed More Often (No, Really)

Eleanor Beaton

When I was 16 years old, my father and I made a deal that at 9:30 p.m. the following night, I would wait for him to pick me up outside the front door of David Rice’s house (David was having a party).

At 9:15 p.m., my dad came INTO THE HOUSE to pick me up from the party wearing rubber boots and a bright orange coat that just happened to still bear the light scent of cow dung from a farm he’d visited shortly before picking me up. He said he wanted to say hello to everyone and check out what was going on.

I. Was. Mortified.

And when I told my dad as much, he gently reminded me that not only was it his responsibility to check up on me, but that I ‘shouldn’t waste my energy caring about what other people thought.’

Public embarrassment is an uncomfortable but powerful learning tool.

Combine this with the fact that if you are taking risks and making bold moves (the twin accelerators of a powerhouse career), you WILL make mistakes, and your execution WILL sometimes be less than perfect.

Occasionally others will bear witness to your mistakes and your resulting mortification.

I recently heard an entrepreneur I admire refer to this as “going to school in public”.

It’s a painful and necessary part of growth that most people won’t experience out of a desire to avoid the embarrassment of having other people watch them learn.

Please don’t be one of those people.

Your embarrassability will hold you back from making the bold moves you need to learn and grow.

This week several of my clients got schooled in public. Painful experiences, powerful learnings. It’s easy in the moment to focus on the “should haves” — I should have known this wouldn’t work. I should have seen that coming.

Focusing on the “shoulds” will prevent you from taking risks and hold you back from being courageous enough to get schooled in public.

The next time you make a mistake — and have other people watch — remember this. The only people who make mistakes that other people can see are the ones who are courageous enough to try things.

Stay fierce,


P.S. Speaking of my dad….THRILLED and humbled to share that I have been named Canada’s Leadership Coach of the Year in the 2017 Corporate Excellence Awards. Thank you so much to my incredible clients and my own leadership mentors and advisors. I’m delighted. The strange thing is that when I get break through news like this, I often think back on my father, who was a tremendous inspiration to me, truly set a standard of excellence for me, taught me how to teach and was in fact MY first leadership coach, but didn’t live to see the full manifestation of what he inspired/helped create. Grateful for him and the other advisors who help me be the person I need to be to be the coach my clients deserve.

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