July 22, 2013
See every failure as a learning opportunity
When I was a young girl and started taking gymnastics lessons, I hung a poster on the wall of my bedroom showing a gymnast doing a split leap on the balance beam. The caption on the poster was an anonymous quote: "If it's to be, it's up to me."
Then, when I was 12 years old, I suddenly began losing my eyesight. I went from 20/20 vision to 20/2200 within about six months -- and the eye doctors couldn't figure out why. Several people suggested that I quit gymnastics; after all, who had ever seen a blind gymnast?
But my gymnastics coach wouldn't let me quit. She knew I'd fallen in love with the sport and she saw that I had the potential to do well. So every day after gymnastics practice ended, once all the other girls had gone home, my coach worked with me one-on-one in the gym for an additional two hours.
We worked together on each routine until I could literally do them with my eyes closed. When I stood at the end of the runway, even though I couldn't see the vault, I knew that if I stood on the piece of tape my coach had put on a certain spot on the floor and ran straight ahead, I would eventually reach the springboard in front of the vault and everything would be OK.
My gymnastics coach taught me not to be afraid of failure or of falling on my butt. And believe me, I used to do that pretty often.
Climbing the career ladder in corporate America turned out to be a lot like what I'd experienced as a gymnast. I fell on my butt a lot and had failures along the way. But whenever that happened, I'd think about my gymnastics coach teaching me to believe in myself and I'd remember that quote on the poster in my bedroom: "If it's to be, it's up to me."
Successfully achieving your career dreams means you're going to have a lot of failures along the way. At times, you may have more failures than successes. But don't be afraid of failure. See every failure and every challenge as learning opportunities.
It's been said that it's better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all. While you might be disappointed if you fail, you'll be doomed if you don't even try.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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