Life is filled with accomplishments and setbacks. I have had my fair share of both. How about you?
Many of you may still be basking in the glow of graduation from either high school or college. Excellent accomplishments indeed! Some of you may be disappointed due to some academic issues that have delayed your graduation a bit.
Those of you in the workforce now may be experiencing your own accomplishments and setbacks too. Perhaps you were recently promoted to a new position on the job. In contrast, some of you may have felt the sting of being passed over for a job position.
Career advancement requires incremental progress. In other words, progress happens step by step. Frankly, accomplishments are generated from setbacks. Learn from them. Use what you learn to achieve new levels of success.
Caution. Dwelling on accomplishments or setbacks for too long distracts your focus and your attention. What happened yesterday, last week, or last month is dead and gone. What you do next is the most important step.
My Own Setback at School
I faced a serious setback when I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in college. The shock of the diagnosis alone was like a punch to the gut. Naturally, it distracted me from the tasks at hand, and my grades plummeted. Before I knew it, the university placed me on academic probation, one step away from being kicked out of the university altogether.
No quick fix to this situation existed. Briefly, I considered leaving college. Thought I might give myself a little time to adjust.
I shook off that idea because I still had a lot of functional vision. Hard work, in spite of the eye condition, was the only solution though.
It took a tremendous effort to climb out of the pit I dug for myself, but I did it. The key was identifying the next step and doing it, not dwelling on the negative for too long.
Want another one? Okay.
A Second Setback: Not Getting the Job
About four years ago, I interviewed for the executive director position of a nonprofit organization. By this point in my career, I felt my work history gave me a good chance despite my vision loss.
I poured in a lot of time and energy customizing my cover letter and resume to the job description, practicing answers to interview questions, and learning to feel relaxed under the scrutiny of an interviewer.
The news was terribly disappointing when it came. I hoped to make it to the second round of interviews. It was not to be though. It was the kind of career setback that brought on a hefty amount of self-doubt.
Again, I considered departing from the course I had taken. Instead, I chose to re-evaluate my self, my skills, my training, and my career prospects.
I made my professional development my top priority. I began reading management and leadership topics in depth, learning about the hiring process, developing new skills, and recommitting to my profession of grant writing.
All with the goal to broaden my knowledge, learn from experience, and prepare for future opportunities.
The Take Away
Accomplishments and setbacks can propel our careers into different directions. But, just like the stock market, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Whatever accomplishment or setback you face today, should be history tomorrow. Of course, celebrate an accomplishment, but tomorrow is a new day. Always work at being better than you were yesterday. String enough days together like this, and your accomplishments will exceed your setbacks!
And remember this, a setback is never a failure unless you quit.
Go accomplish something today!