Failure is not something we are taught to embrace. It’s something that we have to deal with because this is life, and life is full of failures.
A lot of times, we make mistakes on the job that are truly cringe-worthy.
But what smart careerists do to handle failure is something akin to taking hay and spinning it into gold.
Wait, what? Have I got your attention now?
Here’s the trick: The more you understand how failure has played an important role in your growth and knowledge acquisition—and can talk about it in mature, experience-has-made-me-wiser terms—the stronger you become in your career.
If you are constantly dodging difficult conversations (or even a self-analysis) of how the failure happened, then you are doing yourself a disservice.
You know that saying about lugging around unnecessary baggage? Well, not dealing with failure is part of your matching suitcase set.
If you have not come to terms or peace with previous failures, you are constantly pushing a giant boulder around in your career that is unneeded.
My advice: Sit down and do an “autopsy” as to what the precipitating factors were that contributed to the failure.
Example questions to ask yourself
- Did you know what you were doing? If not, why didn’t you ask for help? If help wasn’t available, how could you have been more resourceful to get the answers that you needed?
- Did you completely forget something that was a critical part of the process that failed? If so, then perhaps you can now create a check list so it doesn’t happen again.
- Were you not inclusive of all the stakeholders? If so, then get them involved early on so that they are a constant part of the process from the beginning.
- Did you make an error in calculation? If so, examine the math that you used to come up with that number. Be unafraid of discovering where you went wrong, and understand how you might change it to be correct next time.
These are just some ideas of self-analysis, and where you can spin this into gold is when you are being asked about a particular failure—albeit in an interview or even casual conversation.
By actively discussing it and demonstrating what you learned from the experience is where you can show how you own it, and have moved on.
And that is pure career gold.