By: Adam Giery
I have failed. Not once, but many times. Not just on small things, big ones. However, the reality is, it propelled my career. In every instance in which I failed, I found a new path forward. One that was in line with what I wanted to achieve, not what I was told to achieve. I describe this process as failing forward. The question is, have you embraced the idea that failure is the building blocks of success?
This story is not unique. I share this history with some of the most influential American business leaders. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla & SpaceX, was fired from two of his own companies. Steve Jobs was fired in 1985 from Apple, attempted a failed startup, yet would go on to launch Pixar and the iPhone. No one achieves anything of consequence without failure.
Yet the act of failure is treated as a personal disaster.
In my life, I analyzed my failures to build my personal Core 5 (hyper link to last article). The Core 5 is a life rubric to the top five things I need to be fulfilled in a job during a three to five-year period. Like many college students, I consider careers based on external voices rather than internal drive. Have you considered being a lawyer – I did. I crammed for the LSAT, met with current lawyers, reviewed potential schools, even though I hated the idea of writing briefs or suing people – yet I pressed on. Does this sound familiar?
My performance on the LSAT coupled with my interactions with disappointed lawyers forced me to rethink my choice. I traded law school to pursue a Masters in Higher Education – my real passion. Within one year of making this decision, I was working directly for the Governor of Florida. Would this had been possible had I pursued a career in a field that didn’t match my interests?
To be clear, failure for poor planning or carelessness is not the same as working tirelessly yet not achieving your goal. Embrace the reality that failure is inevitable, and it will be far less daunting. Understand that a failure can focus your professional choices by clarifying your passions. Choosing a career should not be like finding your way around a room in the dark – bumping into the furniture. We should turn on the lights to intentionally find our way. Creating a life rubric designed for you, by you, is a way to ensure you are walking your personal path to professional success. Failure is an opportunity to reassess and should be treated as a thankful pivot in your life plan.