Category Archives: Career

Failure is not a 4-letter word

“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling

I am surprised by the number of people ashamed when they fail, believing that success is the only win.  Failure is part of success.  At times, it plays the principal role in success.

When I taught adult students many believed an “A” was the only success and they could not see the knowledge as the win.  A question missed is an opportunity to grow.  At the beginning of each quarter, I explained to students that a “C” grade should be considered the norm (Bell Curve and all).  Research shows that “B” and “C” students typically are more successful as adults.  Yet it remained every student’s goal to receive an “A” with little focus on gaining knowledge.

Even common childhood events are stripped of failure.  Starter bikes allow children to sit low and push along with their feet learning to balance as they go.  Eventually, they transition to a two-wheeler with little struggle and off they go.  The problem is not that they have success, nor that they learn to ride a bike with no bumps or bruises.  The problem is they do not learn to fail, to fall over, to get back up and try again.  Even small tasks like tying shoes is an immediate success with Velcro.

We see it in sports when the crowd and athletes believe winning is the only gain from a game.  Seldom do we hear “it was a great game.”  Crowds leaving often blaming the other team for cheating, the refs for being on the take, the team players for being lazy or stupid.  I can only imagine the locker room banter, but I doubt it has anything to do with learning from failure, gaining from losing, or admitting a better team won.

One can learn from failing, but it is difficult to learn from easy success.  When success becomes the norm, the expectation, then what happens when an individual fails?  They will fail.  We all fail throughout life.  To grow you must learn from both failures and successes.  You must be willing to look at the event through rational eyes rather than emotional eyes.  This week, make your affirmation “When I fail, I will use the knowledge I gain to gather success in the future.”

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Job Hopper or Tree Hugger

It seems easy to categorize working individuals as the job hopper who jumps positions frequently, or as the tree hugger who never leaves a position.  Careers now take a central focus in most people’s lives and you can find articles criticizing both the job hopper and tree hugger.  Our careers are only one measure of success, but for many it is the most important measure.  Career success powers our ability to pay for the life we want.  The looming question for many is do you stay in the position you have or apply for another position or promotion.  The next time you face such an opportunity, ask yourself these questions.

  1. What about this position interests me? Maybe it is the salary, the hours, the title, or the office with a view.  It could be the number of direct reports or additional responsibility.  If might be that you have outgrown your current position and are ready for the next stage.  Before you apply for a new position, you should understand what about the opportunity is interesting to you.  Identify it by name and own that you are interested in the position for that reason.
  2. What about my current position makes me want to leave? It could be you hate your current position and just want out.  Wanting out of a bad position or out from under a difficult supervisor is understandable, but you must identify exactly what it is that you dislike.  You have to learn to separate job duties from people issues.  If you have outgrown your position, then it probably makes since to look for a new position.  On the other hand, if it is a personal or personnel issue, you will need to dig deeper to understand the issue fully.  If you cannot identify the issue, you could be walking into yet another position with the exact same profile.  As the old adage goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire.  If you have been unhappy in the last several positions you have had, you need to dissect the issues to determine what has caused your dissatisfaction.  Is it the environment, the tasks, or the culture of the company?  Once you have identified the issue, you need to create a question to ask during an interview to determine if the new position will create similar issues for you.
  3. What would be the next logical step for the career I want? Do you have a plan for your career?  Have you mapped out logical steps to the position you desire?  Is the opportunity you are considering on the map or is it off the page?  Individuals lured off the career path by bait, are seldom satisfied if the bait causes them to deviate from their original goal.  If you are only motivated by money, then salary should be your biggest concern.  If you are motivated by title or prestige, then salary will have little to do with your satisfaction in the next position.

If the opportunity you are looking at is on your path, and will not create dissatisfaction in your life, then you should go after the position full-throttle.  If on the other hand you realize that the position does not meet your needs, you should walk away.  Take some time to create a job description for your perfect position.  Think about the company culture you want, the type of duties and responsibilities, what the title might be, and what the salary and benefits would include.  You might even create a vision board around your perfect job description.  Do the research to understand what the path to your perfect position looks like, figure out where you are on the path, and make a plan to move to the next step.  Create an affirmation that you can repeat two or three times daily, and stay focused on the path.

If you are having difficulty finding the answers to these questions, you might benefit from hiring a life coach to help you.