Feel disheartened by job opportunities not working out? See your career as one long stumbling block after another? Just not getting to where you want to be in your career?
Whether you did poorly in a job interview, made a blunder at work or got laid off from a much-loved job, take heart. You’re not alone - failing is a reality of life for everyone.
And although it might feel crushing at the time, once you’ve dusted yourself off the lessons you learn from failure can be a great force for positivity.
Here’s how to take a fresh look at times you’ve failed, and see them as part of your roadmap to workplace success.
Yes, failing might feel awkward, frustrating and even painful at the time, but it’s vital so you can learn about how to do things differently in the future.
Think about how you learned to ride a bike as a child. Chances are you wobbled and fell off plenty of times before you could balance properly. But you got there in the end.
Every failure is another lesson learned, and a bit more insight into how not to make the same mistake next time. Whether that’s trying something slightly different to ace at an interview, or finding a new way to deal with a tricky colleague, what’s key is to treat each negative outcome as another chance to try again.
Behind every success often lies years of toil, failure and persistence. Without years of trying, for example, Thomas Edison wouldn’t have invented the light bulb. He had to work on many thousands of prototypes before he got it right and said ‘I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.’
And last year, Johannes Haushofer, a professor from Princeton University in the US, published his ‘CV of failures’. It included sections on ‘Degree programs I did not get into’, ‘Research funding I did not get’ and ‘Paper rejections from academic journals’.
He wrote that he created the document to ‘balance the record’, adding ‘Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible’.
You needn’t fill your CV with failures like Professor Haushofer. But ‘tell me about a time you’ve failed at work’ is a classic interview question for a reason. More and more employers are starting to seek out real examples of career lows job hunters have gone through.
As we tell the candidates we work with at HR GO, being able to talk about when you’ve made mistakes, and how you’ve truly learned from them, will demonstrate resilience and self-awareness. These are both valuable qualities in potential employees.
Yes, it can be hugely disheartening to get a job rejection or make an embarrassing blunder at work. But in the grand scheme of things these types of things could actually be huge positives for your career.
Our message? Keep trying, even if you have failures on the way. Just think how sweeter success will taste once you get there.