Failing is never fun. It makes us question our abilities and our value. If we experience a hard enough blow or a few in a row, then we start to doubt ourselves altogether. However, failure doesn’t have to be so soul-crushing. It doesn’t have to define you. A failure is not who you are.
“There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true self.”
My recent experience with failure
Recently, I interviewed for a job that I really wanted. At the time of the interview, I had little interest. There was a lot I didn’t know about the job and I wasn’t sure if it was going to fit my needs. However, by the end of the interview, I really wanted it.
It was everything I was looking for. The compensation, the location, the industry, and the team I would be working with. It all sounded great.
Unfortunately, after several days of waiting and hearing nothing, I called to find out the status of the position and found out they had decided to pursue another candidate. I was crushed.
This isn’t the first job I have been passed over for.
Several months ago, my former employer lost their contract with the account I was assigned to. Additionally, this meant the loss of my job. Since I had advance notice, I applied for months at various places before I was officially out of work.
I went on lots of interviews, most of which I felt went quite well. There were a few that probably would have turned into offers, but I had decided they weren’t for me after the interviews.
The few that I had really wanted, however, had all passed me over for someone else. I just couldn’t get to the top of the list of candidates. No matter what, I was always second best.
In a few instances, I asked if there was anything I could have answered better in the interview or if any one particular thing swayed them away from me that I could improve upon. The answers were always the same; I had interviewed great, they just had someone with an edge over me.
Someone with a little more experience in exactly what they were looking for.
A candidate looking for a little lower pay.
A person with a bachelor’s degree.
I couldn’t win! I started to feel like a real failure. To make matters worse, this last one I felt so sure of until I found out they had chosen someone else. Once again, I was second best.
Seeing the bigger picture
It took some time and reflection, and some much-needed encouragement from my husband, but eventually I realized something. Yes, I failed, but I am not a failure.
In all honesty, I’m quite successful, but I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture. I had been taking for granted that I had been second best. Viewing it as though that was a bad thing. Actually, second best in a long list of candidates is actually pretty good.
I also hadn’t been taking into account that I was trying to make a career switch. Had the jobs I been applying for been in my industry and field, I could have gotten them without a problem.
I see the whole picture now. I’m no longer looking at my success and failure in terms of job interviews I’ve been on recently. Now, I’m looking at my life as a whole. That picture is a lot different from what I was seeing before. The new perspective gives me a renewed value in myself and renewed enthusiasm to keep trying.
How to be a failure
If you keep falling into the same trap that I and so many others do, remember this:
YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE.
Failure is a lot of things. It’s frustrating, humiliating and hurtful. But more importantly, failure means you’re trying. You cannot fail if you do not try. It’s really easy to fail and associate personal meaning with that failure. It doesn’t mean it’s true.
There are a lot of people in the world with few failures under their belt, but they haven’t accomplished anything either. There is no greatness if you do not fail.
Here are some important thoughts that helped get me out of my failure funk. Keep them in mind next time you need to be lifted out of the “I’m a failure” trap!
Recognize that second best isn’t a failure. If you have a habit of going into situations with an all-or-nothing frame of mind, then not being at the top will make you feel like a failure. Of course, technically I failed because I didn’t get the job. But I succeeded at being better than a lot of other people. Eventually, I will make it because I will find someone that is willing to take a chance on me or I will actually be the best candidate. By coming in second, I have more chance than the others that didn’t make it!
Remember that it’s not always all-or-nothing. Just because you didn’t get the exact outcome you were looking for doesn’t mean you failed as badly as you think you did.
Remind myself that a 30-minute interview isn’t enough for people to know me fully. Trying to switch career paths is crazy difficult, especially if you are relying 100% on experience and skills and have no educational background to back it up. I’m hoping that people will see enough in me in a very small time span to be willing to make a commitment. That’s actually kind of a crazy goal. Not that it won’t happen, I’m confident it will. In fact, people do it every day! But to feel like a failure because it’s taking a while? That seems ridiculous now that I think about it. This is something I should expect to take a little time. I need to figure out how to sell myself better. The person who got the job obviously did!
Remember to view your failures in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish. Is it a huge goal or ambitious timeline? Give yourself some slack! Large, difficult, and ambitious goals are always harder to achieve. The bigger the goal, the more failure you should expect on your way to achieving it. But don’t be discouraged by that! You will also have a much bigger reward when you do succeed!
Acknowledge that there will always be someone better than me. This time, that person showed up to interview for the same job I did. One of these times, I will be the best one that shows up. For now, I have to accept the fact that just like everything else in life, there was someone better than me for the needs of the employer. That doesn’t make my skills and abilities any less valuable.
This is true for everything in our lives. There will always be someone outdoing us. It doesn’t matter if the topic is parenting, blogging, painting, writing, dancing, or making pancakes. We cannot be the best at everything. We can only do our best at everything that we try. It’s as simple as that.
One failure does not make me a failure. I’ve succeeded many times in the past, at many different things. I’m certain I will succeed again in the future. To hang all of my value and sense of success on one thing is…well, crazy.
You will succeed. One failure is not the end. I promise you, there will be more opportunities down the road. You will succeed in this, in time, and many other things. Do not base your sense of success on a single failure. See your life, and yourself, for what it truly is.
Failure does not define you.
How you react to failure, does define you. Are you going to be the kind of person that fails and assumes this means you’re not good/strong/smart/brave enough? Or are you going to push past the frustration and disappointment and move forward toward success?
Do not allow your failures to define you. If you do, you will become one of those who no longer try. As we all know, not trying assures you’ll never fail. It also means you’ll never succeed or accomplish anything either.
I know who I am in my failures. They bring me down, but not for long. I choose to learn from them and try to do better next time. I will continue to see myself in a positive light, as should you.
None of us are failures. Maybe we’re just meant for something better.
How did you handle your most recent failure?
-To your Better Life-