Failing Forward

The job search process is difficult especially when we go through a long rigorous interview process and we are not successful in securing the position we want. As an Executive Recruiter I worked with a candidate for almost 5 months and in that time he participated in 4 interviews, a written assignment and was not successful in securing the job. Although he was disappointed, during our debrief we talked about the best way to move forward. Upon reflection, he realized mistakes he had made along the way and I was able to re-map his next steps. Sticking with me throughout the journey prevented for him what we in the business call “Job Search Paralysis.” The key to failing forward is momentum: as soon as you take action after a failure, you are virtually guaranteeing by that action that you will find the right thing and you stay galvanized to do what it takes.

In his book “Failing Forward: Turning mistakes into stepping stones for success,” author John Maxwell talks about key differences between average people and achieving people as being their perception of, and their response to, failure. In an effort to be perfect we all want to avoid mistakes, but failure is unavoidable – sooner or later everyone fails.

Here are a few examples of “Famous Failures”

  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.
  • Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up.”
  • Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Think of a time in your life where you failed? What did that teach you? Take some time to journal your reflections. Consider using a professional coach, such as myself, to assist you in your next job search because the best antidote to the paralysis I mentioned above is to have someone available to you to strategize and re-strategize along the way until you land where you want to be.