I really mean it..we are all failures. In some way or another, every small biz owner, entrepreneur and self starter has experienced failure (some a lot more than others!).
But what I LOVE is that I have learned to embrace my failures for the sheer reason that they are actually successes in disguise. Take a trip down memory lane and remember your supposed “failures” in life. Then, think of how those failures lead you to something great. Maybe you’re in the middle of an epic fail right now that is just here to prep you for your next major success.
I’m going to get brutally honest here for a second because my career journey had a lot more failures than I anticipated!
I finished high school and had no idea what I wanted to do after I left. Travel? College? Work? Deep down I knew much of my decision was based on A) how people would perceive me and B) making my friends and family proud (so basically- how people would perceive me!). So, I did the obvious choice and went to University to get my 4 year B.A. degree. I came out of there at 22 years old- a self proclaimed Psychology and Law expert ready to take on the world. I could do anything I wanted. I worked hard in University and finished with above average grades so SURELY I would have a few job offers coming my way!
I took it easy for a few weeks but eventually I realized I needed to start putting myself out there to look for jobs (that $15,000 student loan wouldn’t take care of itself!).
Day 1 I opened my computer and applied to a job. Great! Surely I will hear something back soon.
Day 2 I applied to second job.
Day 3 I applied to my third. By the second week, I hadn’t heard anything back but I just figured people were on vacation and hadn’t seen my incredible resume yet.
Day 30 rolled around my inbox was empty. Zip. Nothing. Weird. Only slightly discouraged, I continued sending out at least one resume a day, and sometimes upwards of 10! I had one response from a financial company looking to hire me on for sales position, but I decided it wasn’t good enough for me- after all I really wanted to make use out of my degree!
Day 60. Wow. Nothing yet? How could this be? I tweaked my resume and continued trying.
Day 90 and I hadn’t heard anything. I could tell my parents wondered what I was doing with my work-free days and my friends probably surely I was being lazy.
Day 120 and finally- a few bites! Only this was from Government pools where I had to go through testing for months or even years to hear anything.
Day 150. Ok, what the hell is wrong with me?! My resume must suck or maybe my experience is not up to par. But I had been working since I was 16!
I’m such a failure.
Finally, 6 months (6 MONTHS!!) in I got an offer from a company to do residential leasing. Not exactly what I wanted, or pictured, but it was something! I worked there for 3 years and, boy, did I kick butt! I won Sales Rep of the year my first and second year at the company. I loved the people I worked with and I was excited to stay there forever- I saw this company as a place to grow my career! On my third year, I started trying to take on more responsibility and my sales started declining. I had a bad 2 months (my first bad months ever) and the CEO called me into his office and fired me on the spot.
I was SHOCKED. Fired?
Couldn’t I have some time to improve my performance? Is there no warning for me or maybe another position you can use me for? Feeling absolutely humiliated, I handed in my phone and company material and left.
I’m such a failure.
Back to the job hunt, only this time, it was much faster (thank god!). I found a job as an employment recruiter at an amazing company- one of the top 50 best managed companies in Canada. The people were all young and cool and it was such an awesome environment. “This,” I thought to myself, “this is going to be my career“. I was in love with my job for about….. 3 months. Until it stared tearing at the seams. This company was fond of meetings where everyone would stand around, talk about what they had accomplished (or not accomplished), and then wait to be ambushed with a barrage of criticism. Some days were worse than others but I remember feeling so embarrassed for my colleagues and often times I felt humiliated myself. One day, my boss took me out to lunch to talk about my less-than-stellar sales numbers and he laid into me. “I wish I had known your personality before hiring you. Things would have been different.”… “I don’t think you’ve ever done anything hard in your life.” “You can’t even handle issues in your personal life so how will you handle your shit at work“.
I remember staring down at my Dragon Roll in absolute and utter disbelief. Was my boss really speaking to me like this? How incredibly inappropriate and how humiliating to do this in a restaurant during lunch. Sushi ruined. It was at that moment I decided I would never work for somebody again. I would never subject myself to that kind of embarrassment for ANY job. I quit that job 3 weeks later and my boss never said a word to me after that lunch.
I’m such a failure.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) September 8, 2016
So, I started thinking, if I won’t work for somebody else, I have to find a way to become an entrepreneur. I had always felt a pull towards real estate and I decided the perfect job for me would be a Realtor! I set my own hours, choose my clients and get paid a ton of money! Duh, it’s a no-brainer!
Finally feeling proud of myself, I started and completed my real estate courses in record time and I became a licensed Realtor in 4 months! Finally, my life will start coming together. I signed up with a brokerage and eagerly began paying my $500/month just to maintain my license (without receiving any income yet).
I paid over $1500 in training programs that told me all sorts of methods from harassing friends to cold calling to knocking on doors.
I started to feel disillusioned and drained. I don’t want to call numbers in the phone book and bother people hoping that one day someone will want my services. So many Realtors are incredibly successful and don’t even have to cold call- I was hoping I could be one of them. I wasn’t willing to put in the work. So, naturally, I decided to switch brokerages. Surely a new, more well known swanky real estate brokerage would help!
6 months went by and I had no sales (even with the well known brand behind my name). I started feeling the oh-so-familiar feeling of being a complete and utter failure. No amount of training or motivational speeches was going to help. I didn’t like the career I had chosen AGAIN– the career I was so sure would be my last. The career I just spent $5000 to start and another $10,000 to maintain. So, big surprise, I quit. Again. Well more like I “took an extended hiatus”.
I am such a failure.
I have now disappointed my family and even worse, myself. I have failed at being a productive member of society. I have failed more than once trying to follow the path that was expected of me. I have been chasing a dream of success that was not meant for me.
I realized something in this moment- I was looking at these experiences as failures because I didn’t try hard enough, or I didn’t understand something well enough or I wasn’t as good as someone else.
But remember next time you’re disappointed, failures are nothing more than course corrections. Sometimes small and sometimes they are doozies.
These experiences I had were my mind, my subconscious, my soul (whatever you want to call it) nudging me to where I needed to be. And I know with absolute certainty I will fail again. I’m sure I will have more tears and frustrations and I’m sure I have some epic fails coming up in my future.
But now I can remember that every time I failed I was forced to change. And when you change, you grow. And growing is just..life.