I once read this saying: “You never fail until you stop trying.” That pretty much sums up my outlook and fits well into the article that inspired today’s blog post. Most of us have no idea how to predict the future–even if some of you can make fairly good educated guesses–so we have no idea what might lie around the next bend in the road, either in life or in our career. Yet you might find yourself feeling like a failure because you missed achieving a goal on your job or made a career decision that did not work out the way you expected.
Take heart. Unless you willfully screwed up, considering yourself a failure is probably too harsh a judgment and premature besides.
According to an article on failure and success that I just read by James Price, the answer to that question is yes. Price states that “failure is a picture in time, as is success….Failure is an event that does not define you unless it becomes you.” He further notes that it’s important to take responsibility if you made a mistake but don’t let that stop you in your tracks. Instead, fix it if you can and move on. Of course, if you make mistakes you could and should have avoided with even minimal care, that’s another matter. Hopefully, that’s not the case.
You might need to correct some actions you’ve taken this year or, in some cases, take steps you should have taken this year but didn’t. Along with that, if you’ve made mistakes you can learn from–and avoid repeating in 2013–make sure you plan what you need to do to accomplish that. That in itself could increase your odds of career success in the new year.
For example, what did you do in your work situation that didn’t turn out well? Were you the one responsible for that “failure” or was it someone else outside your control? Maybe it was a combination of factors or circumstances, some of which you could have changed and some you couldn’t. You’re not a failure if you make a commitment to do better going forward.
Remember that things won’t change for the better in 2013–that is, you can’t transform apparent failure into future success–until you take charge of what needs to change. If you label yourself, or allow others to label you, as a failure, you will stay stuck. Change that scenario, and you change the future to a more promising one. To quote Price again: “The only setback would be apathy. As long as you are pushing forward toward a goal, the pragmatic result is you will gain some ground.” Price’s article also quotes Henry Ford, who said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Career success isn’t like a lottery. There don’t need to be losers in order for you to win. What’s more, you can revisit an apparent failure and “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat,” which according to Wiktionary means to “succeed in an endeavor through reversal of fortune, skill, effort, or good judgment.” That’s career success, not a failure.