#ShopeeInsider: I was struggling, and now I’m failing

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Joel Seah Photography

This article is one of many reflections I’ll be sharing during my time with Shopee (Singapore, HQ). Follow my #lifeatshopee progress with the new #ShopeeInsider hashtag.

Since the publication of my last confession, concerned colleagues and friends have been taking turns to ask if I’m doing fine in my new environment.

Traditionally, at my fifth week, I would’ve politely quipped, “yes, I’m fine,” before quickly returning the spotlight back to them. If they were closer friends, I might’ve extended the lifespan of that conversation by admitting that I was already getting bored. Yes, that’s me. Once I’ve cracked the code (and I usually do that fast), I get bored really quickly.

But with Shopee, I find myself (willingly or unwillingly) at the opposite end of boredom. What I was initially hired to do has now become a real obsession, one that occupies me and my thinking space day and night. Nobody asks me to work after hours; I just can’t help myself but want to. Nobody tells me what to do; I’m allowed to dive deep into my quiet place and let my thoughts run free – I love that.

At this point, you’re probably imagining my fixation as the result of me excelling at my work and still wanting to go above and beyond. In reality though, it’s quite the opposite. I’m actually failing at my job.

See, the thing is I don’t write enough articles. I don’t post frequently enough on social media, and I don’t have a robust pipeline of topics ready to be executed. I don’t stick to the content calendar that I’ve spent time and mugs of hot Horlicks mapping out, and I consistently do not have a consistent plan to sell to my boss – in fact, I’ve made changes to my proposal about four to six times now, with and without informing/consulting him. I’m genuinely failing, even if it doesn’t look like it to most.

Yet, somehow, it’s this failure that causes me to become so compulsive. Success would’ve bored me; failure, on the other hand, drives me. In the acknowledgement that problems and solutions always come hand in hand, I find the freedom to clumsily fail. When I meet with dilemmas, pre- or post-execution, there will always be an equal or higher number of answers waiting to be discovered (or created). The recognition of this truth gives me the brazen liberty to quickly pick myself up and try again and again and all over again.

“The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail. Ideas don’t come out fully formed; they only become clearer as you work on them. You just have to get started.” Mark Zuckerberg

Working out content categories, scheduling combinations, writing styles, publicity activities and community building, I must’ve failed over a hundred times by now. But it’s precisely these missteps that give me reasons to continue working on them. If I had succeeded on my first try, I probably wouldn’t have as much to learn, to give or to care about. I leverage on my losses whilst giving thanks, knowing that the daily decision to look past my defeats shapes my resilience and evaluative capabilities as well.

At week five, I’ve only just dipped my toes into the cold, icy ocean and the wind is roaring past my ears. I don’t know about you, but I’m just getting started.


Curious about Shopee’s workplace culture? Follow our hashtag #lifeatshopee on LinkedIn and Instagram to find out more.

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