Five Things to Learn from Failing at Work

work stress
As we all know, things don’t always turn out the way that we would like. There are disappointments, outright failures and times when we seem like we are off course and lost in the wilderness of career despair. The saying goes: April showers bring May flowers. Knowing how to navigate the setbacks and learning to see them as a part of your career growth and personal development is the focus of this month’s LTAW.

Disaster struck. The poo hit the fan. Everything came crashing down and you messed up big time – at work. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve escaped with your ego bruised, but your job intact. If that’s the case, you probably feel lost as to where to go from here and how to start moving past this bump in the road.

But there is hope. From here, use these five “jumping off points” to bring you back to center, remind you who you are as a professional, and get you back on the road to where you want to be.

  1. You’re human. Certainly at least one (maybe a few) people will get off on the holier-than-thou rush they get from seeing you struggle, but don’t let it shake you. At the end of the day, everyone messes up – and those who pretend they don’t are really just bad actors.
  2. Humility is vital to survival. It’s the Murphy’s Law of the professional world: the moment you feel like you’re on top of the world and unstoppable, someone or something will kick the chair out from under you. When that happens, all you can do is accept your fallibility and be candid about your own shortcomings.
  3. Your successes define you far beyond your failures. Does anyone focus on the failures of “the greats?” We don’t give more weight to the hoops Michael Jordan missed, the balls Babe Ruth missed, or the theories Alber t Einstein botched. That would be a pretty sad, nihilistic society, wouldn’t it?
  4. You’ve got to climb out of the hole. You don’t need to grovel miserably until you feel like you’ve done penance for your failings – but at least have the wisdom to realize that everyone has to work their way back out of the rut they’ve fallen into.
  5. Play your cards close to the vest. This is especially true if you are buddies with the office gossip. Keep your words measured, keep your focus laser-like, and don’t spend much time venting about this nasty period of time. Moving on requires forward momentum, and letting coworkers too far into the mess will keep you stuck in it that much longer.

Dance in the rain!

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