Monday, April 11, 2011

You need to fail sometimes – to succeed …

“I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. ” - Michael Jordan

Some people live in fear of a potential failure in their career. This fear stops them dead in their tracks. They won’t take risks and they do not move forward. I see this all the time in my practice, especially when the big question comes up ----

Dan, what if I am a failure?

When I hear this, I know my client needs to get over the fear of failure before moving on to the thrill of success. We have been “conditioned” by our parents and prior generations to do the safe thing – do the secure thing. Latch on to a job or career, and stay with it, come hell or high water and who cares if you hate it.

Old school thinking, but engrained. Was in mine too until, at the age of early 30’s with a wife, son and mortgage, I stated that’s it – I am going out on my own. My father-in-law Vito – god rest his soul – thought I was crazy. But he soon became my supporter. We lost sage Vito early in his life – he would have been so proud of his family. But he is an example – toiled in the factory for 35 plus years, grew to a senior management position – would have never thought about leaving when, in fact, he was miserable.

Fear of career or job failure are the fears that shouldn’t be obstacles. The fears of illness, death, calamity in the world – now, they are real fears and put all other fears in perspective. When you frame your mind, and ask yourself the question …

If I fail in my job or in my chosen career, what is the worst that can happen?

You will be hard pressed to come up with a life-changing result. Yes it might be painful for a period of time, and you may feel disconnected in what you are doing or there could be a short change in your finances – but you still live, you can still grow and you can pick yourself up and move forward. You learn from the experience (won’t do that again!), you take on new skills – and you put it behind you because, as I have said over and over again – you can’t change history. It’s done – it’s over – move on.

And the market supports change …
Unlike not too many years back, the job & career market supports making change and change is encouraged. Years back, when one was in a job for perhaps a work lifetime, a failure or mistake could have been devastating as there was little change – or as we call it churn – in the market. Churn is the amount of change in the job market caused by people moving in and out of jobs. Over the past few years, we see once again that people are making job & career changes (many of the statistics come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics :

• Workers, on average, change jobs every 2 to 4 years (was 3 to 5 years just 2 years ago) – more frequently for the younger – less frequently for the more mature worker (BLS).
• Those in their 20’s are changing jobs every 18 months to 2 years (BLS).
• People are changing careers 2 to 5 times in their work life (Note: This is a collected average opinion from those in the career management industry. Surprisingly, the Bureau of Labor Statics does not track as they cannot define career change).
• 1/3 of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months (BLS).
• By the age of 42 you will probably already have had eleven jobs (BLS)

Employers are not looking for lifetime employees. Many employers tell me that 3 to 5 years is good – they learn, the employee learn, and they start fresh again with a new person/new ideas – and the employee moves on to a new role where their passion is reenergized. Long or lifetime employment is history.

If you take away one thing from this article: Look at failures as opportunities – opportunities to learn, to try harder, to know what not to do next time. Welcome failures along the path to success and fulfillment. R.H. Macy failed four times before Macy’s caught on. Abraham Lincoln failed to get elected before becoming the great President he was. And the stories can go on and on …

Look failures right in the eye – accept those speed bumps in life and career – move on and continue on your path to success. And thank you for reading this. - Dan

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