After the spectacular failure…
What you need to know:
- Taking responsibility for your actions when things go south is noble and preserves your reputation in the long run.
- It might not look like that right now when the best way out seems to be ‘self-preservation’.
- Instead of wasting time arguing or giving excuses for a failure, take ownership and review the learnings and all the facts that led to the incident.
For many, failure is painful. If there was a pill that would insulate us from every possible failure in our careers and lives, I doubt anyone would pass it over. The good or bad news is that even the most successful executives you know have sucked at something. However, learning from failure is what makes them successful today.
If you are working hard to build yourself professionally or to set up a business, failure can feel like a final blow – a reminder that you are not good enough. Depending on your personality, failure can follow you in and out of bed for months.
Feelings of disappointment are natural when that social media campaign you were sure would change the fortunes of your department, fails. Or what if you reassured your boss that you will represent the organisation well at a critical meeting but something happened – either you were late on that day or you were underprepared? That can deal a major blow to your self-esteem, and it can take a while before you get your confidence back. But as they say, failure is not final. And in this piece, we will look at ways to get back on your feet after a major failure at work.
Own up to your mistakes
Taking responsibility for your actions when things go south is noble and preserves your reputation in the long run. It might not look like that right now when the best way out seems to be ‘self-preservation’.
Instead of wasting time arguing or giving excuses for a failure, take ownership and review the learnings and all the facts that led to the incident. The sooner you do this, the faster you progress past the failure.
Embrace the feelings that come with failure
Feeling disappointed, sad, or angry at yourself is normal after a failure. Do not dismiss your feelings or pretend they are not affecting you. Here is the thing, if you are sad but pretending not to be sad, you are still sad, right? Negative feelings affect our productivity whether or not we acknowledge them. Your feelings also play a role in your improvement process because they help you work through the cause and effects of the failure, and improve outcomes next time. Basically, mourn and then move on.
Find that thing that inspires you
Failure comes with drawbacks, and depending on the magnitude and consequences of the failure, the recovery process will differ. The truth is that, while we all make mistakes, not all mistakes are the same. That is why some mistakes get people fired and others do not. Depending on the outcome of your failure, you might need to recalibrate – speak to advisors or mentors, and connect with your core again. Trusted people in your circles will affirm your true essence, and remind you that despite the setback, you have a lot going such as your skills, qualifications, and networks… and your career is not over.
Get in the habit of goal setting
Tracking your career goals, achievements and progress are important because it provides clarity and a reference point when your career is going through a rough patch. When you make this a habit, when you encounter a career speedbump, as you are likely to, you will have a reference of what you are capable of. And failure will not have a permanent hold on you.