Why am I a failure? Maybe you’ve asked yourself this question before. I know I have. It’s a question you can’t really avoid when you spend the first year after college un/underemployed. Not that I’m asking for pity. I’m not. Life isn’t always fair, even to ruggedly handsome men like me.
I feel like it’s been a blessing, actually. It’s helped me to strengthen my spiritual roots and forced me to learn more about myself. It also planted the seed for this blog. I’m still very confident in my abilities, and my resume definitely speaks for itself, but that hasn’t kept the f-word (that’s failure for all you potty mouths out there) from cropping up every now and then. It’s also made me think more about why I feel like a failure, and why people fail in general. I’ve come up with 4 main reasons. Want to hear them? That’s okay, I’m going to tell you anyway :)
Lack of Education
With education, I don’t necessarily mean a formal education in the form of a high school diploma or a college degree. As valuable as those are, I’m personally not a huge fan of public education in general, and know people without a degree who are a lot more successful than I am.
What I really mean, though, is educating yourself about how to do things. For example, looking for a job is a lot more than surfing job boards and handing out your resume like a peep show vendor in Las Vegas. You have to network. And you have to learn how to network. You have to be at the top of your game in knowing what to do, how to do it and why you’re doing it. It’s a science, and if you don’t educate yourself on it, you’re not going anywhere.
I missed out on a job less than a month after graduation because of this. They told me they wanted to hire me, but there was something they noticed that they didn’t like, and it was because it was my first real-world interview and I had no idea what the heck I was doing. I needed to learn the ways of corporate recruiting.
Lack of initiative
At times, I was guilty of this one too. For the first couple of months, my self-confidence was a little too strong and I spent a lot of my time playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I hadn’t played video games in years and decided I deserved the break.
I spent hours every day playing. It was awesome. That is, until I beat the game and realized how much time I had wasted. Not awesome. Through that time, I was applying for jobs and networking a little bit to get my name out there, but I wasn’t putting any heart and soul into it. I was resting on my laurels a little bit too much and needed to get that smug look slapped off my face, which is exactly what happened.
Lack of discipline
After I poured myself into the game again, I was a networking fiend for a solid month. I was out of the house almost every day meeting with people I knew, people I barely knew, and people I didn’t know at all. I was sharpening my saw, working out, getting myself psyched up, and all other sorts of awesome.
And still nothing happened.
So my discipline waned a little. I was tired of searching; tired of losing. I went through 6 or 7 interview processes (in a small market) and got to the end with every one, only to be out-shouldered by an internal candidate or someone who knew just a little bit more about some useless aspect of the job than I did. So I lost my confidence and stopped trying as hard. At the same time, I was training for a half-marathon and developed a stress fracture in my foot. At that point, I all but gave up. My wife had to give me daily pep talks to keep me going.
No matter how hard you try, there are some things you just can’t control. As I’ve looked back on the last 10 months, I’ve thought about the interviews I’ve gone through, and the networking I’ve done, and all the other things I’ve done to get a job. And I’m sure there has been a measure of each of the above that has contributed to my lack of jobbage. But there has also been a lot I couldn’t control. And if I only attribute my failure to the things I could control, I’m not giving myself much room to grow in the future.
Sometimes you have an awesome product or brand (i.e. you or something else), but the timing just isn’t right. Or you’re pitching it to the wrong audience. Sometimes someone who’s just a little bit better beats you to the punch. That doesn’t take anything away from you. It just means you have to go back to the drawing board, determine what you can control and what you can’t, and hit it hard again.
Outside of that first job I screwed up, are there any other ones I missed out on because I lacked education, initiative or discipline? Maybe. But I wouldn’t know it. Are there jobs I missed out on because of something that was out of my control? Yep. Most of the ones I didn’t get, I feel like I can legitimately attribute to that. And not because I’m in denial. I feel like I’m a realistic guy.
And in the end, I’m glad I failed (and am still failing, I guess). Because if I didn’t, I may not be writing this blog. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have learned all these things about myself. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be as grateful when I eventually do get the job I want. I believe that everything has a purpose, and there are no coincidences. And it’s given me a chance to remember what my priorities are.
And you know what? Being a failure can be pretty darn awesome. As long as you make something out of it.