Flop to You Drop

Have you ever felt like a flop? I know I have – plenty of times. Any career path can be a bumpy road, and solely a day goes by in which I do not fail at something. Whether it is a lack of compassion displayed, a point not made, a meeting adjourned or a project that just won’t take off the way you anticipated - the opportunities of perceived failure are plentiful.

Feeling inconsequential and not up to the task is not exactly comfortable – but it can be rewarding in its own way. The issue here, it seems to me, is not the concept failure itself. We all fail at times and will continue to do so unless we stop doing anything really. No, the real issue is what we make of failure – how we deal with it and utilize our mistakes for professional advancement.

So, what to do? Well, for starters, I suggest putting ourselves in a work environment that gives us permission to fail sometimes. An environment in which it is acceptable to be vulnerable, to not have all the answers ready and to develop the courage and trust to get out there and aim for the stars instead of simply reaching for the long hanging fruits. At times, such an environment will indeed lead to failure. More often than not however, I believe I will provide us with the opportunity to advance in areas such as creativity, invention, and innovation.

I would also suggest to ‘fail fast’, getting it done and over with quickly. Just as in software development, the idea of failing fast career wise is to locate a potential failure and determine existing mistakes early on in the game. Ideally, the early detection of our screw-ups and knowledge gaps will allow us to minimize the overall damage to our career and advancement in work life.

The trick is to recognize our imperfections, and to embrace them without succumbing to them. Failure, let’s remind ourselves, is simply a temporary detour, not a dead end.  

Julia Ryberg