All of us have been there at some point in our lives. Something that we really wanted didn’t work: we didn’t get into the university we wanted, we didn’t pass an exam, we didn’t get the job or promotion that we wanted. And so, a thought comes. I failed…
All of us encounter some form of failure, setback or challenge during our lives. In fact, there are quite a few of these! It’s ok and they happen. It’s fine to feel temporarily sad that something didn’t work but the only way to get out of it is to move forwards.
Three years ago, I was fortunate to meet Bill Burnett, Executive Director of the Design Programme at Stanford University. Together with his colleague, Dave Evans, they wrote an inspiring book called ‘Designing Your Life’ which has had a positive impact on how I work. What they say – and I totally agree with it – is that there is no failure as such as we are designers and we constantly prototype. If something doesn’t work, we know that we need to tweak or change something and off we are working on the next best version.
If there was something that didn’t work for you recently – get the lesson from it and let go. Put into practice what you learnt and make a step forward. What really gets you out of the failure mode is to stop thinking and start doing. So, pick the next thing you can work on and give it all your energy and focus. There are so many opportunities around you – some work and some don’t. The last experience has only prepared you to be better next time and eventually to get what you really want.
Nelson Mandela once said: I never lose. I either win or learn.
If you didn’t get the job you wanted – ask for feedback; if you didn’t pass an exam – see what needs to improve or ask somebody for help with the task ahead; if you didn’t get promoted – ask what can you do better, reflect on it and then act by improving your skills and abilities (or perhaps it’s time to try something different and change jobs?).
Don’t ask WHY did this happen to me? but instead ask HOW can I learn from this? WHAT will I do differently next time? Keep your focus and move on.
What’s the next thing you are working on?