This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 1
Expand Posts Area =
Gap/Space Between Posts = 10px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors =
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results
Ordinary People Taking Action
Back to Blog
Guest Post By: Jenna Powers, HR Director at Amazon
I am sitting in the café on the second floor of Amazon’s Doppler building, craning my neck, looking for a vantage point where the Seattle sun isn’t glaring so badly against my tablet screen and I can read what I’m typing. My phone is alive next to me, resting on the weather page for Cary, North Carolina. It is 77 degrees in Cary today, but the forecast for Saturday is 43 degrees and snow. I’m running a 100 mile race in Cary on Saturday. Absent lightning or some other real, physical danger to runners, races don’t get canceled. Not even for 43 degrees and snow.
But maybe you’re still on the part about running 100 miles. Yes, this is a thing. Yes, I will run and walk for approximately 24 straight hours. No, I won’t sleep in the middle of it. Yes, I will stop and use the bathroom. Yes, I will eat real food, but on my feet while moving. No, I’m not happy about the weather forecast.
I ran my first marathon in 2014 and discovered an unknown passion of mine. Within 18 months, I ran eight more marathons before jumping to 52 miles – my first “ultra marathon,” or distance longer than 26.2 miles. To date, I’ve run races of 31 miles, 62 miles, 81 miles, 100 miles, and many more marathons.
Some of my races were objectively successful, others more subjectively so. I’ve placed among the top women finishers, among the top of my age group, and set personal records. On the flip side, there was a race where I got so hot in the South Dakota summer sun that I gave up running and started walking with miles and miles to go. There were races in Montana and Arizona that were so cold I got hypothermic before they were through. And there was the race in Texas when, after feeling sick for miles, I finally ducked into an abandoned barn to… well, you get the idea.
Luckily, my results don’t matter. I mean, they matter very much to me, but given that I work in Human Resources at Amazon and I am not sponsored by [insert running shoe company here], the outcomes of my races don’t matter to anyone but me. In short, I’ve given myself a safe place to take big risks, and a very safe place to fail.
Amazon is famous for this. Jeff Bezos has spoken at length about Amazon’s bold bets and failures along the way. We like to say “fail fast,” learn from it, apply those learnings, and move on – a lesson I’ve stretched to my personal life.
It’s easy to talk about having the freedom to fail, but the truth is, failure is scary. We’ve been conditioned our whole lives to avoid it. When you’re talking about work – the thing that puts food on the table and keeps a roof over your head – even the thought of failure can induce anxiety. But it’s that fear of failure that holds so many people back. How do you get comfortable with failing?
You give yourself a practice space.
For me, this is a race course. For you, it could be something different. An indoor pool. A drum set in the corner of the garage. A set of watercolors. Get comfortable taking risks in an environment where the stakes are low, and you’ll be more confident when the stakes are high. Find a place where you can practice getting better at something, and you will get better at everything. Give yourself the freedom to fail, and you will gain what you need to succeed.
Jenna is a Human Resources Director at Amazon and an ultra-runner, having completed a dozen races longer than a marathon since 2014. She is passionate about the intersection between career success and sport, and about helping people try to improve in both areas.