Most of us hide our failures. We associate failure with shame and embarrassment and we tend to try and keep those failures tucked away in a shoebox, safely hidden away in our closets. The truth of the matter is that we learn MORE from our failures than we do from our successes, don’t we?
Our failures snowball into success- they are the Cinderella story, the reason we triumph in the end. Don’t miss this. Our failures are only failures if we leave them as that. Success is often right around the bend if you try just one more time, or make one more call, or stick it out for one more week.
I’m no stranger to failures. If I listed all of my failures you would probably think to yourself, “Why am I even listening to her? Her track record is horrible!”
The truth of the matter is that my failures have not only shaped me into who I am today (cliche, I know, I know…) but they’re the very reason I figured out how to succeed in different areas of my life.
Take a quick moment and think through one of your failures with me. What is the first failure that comes to mind? It might be very recent, it might be from many years ago. It can be a failed relationship, career path, weight loss or a failed grade in school.
Does that failure still sting?
Would you be where you are today if it weren’t for that failure?
Maybe you’re in the midst of it right now – or its still pretty fresh – in which case you’re probably itching to hear someone else’s big flop to take your mind off of your own for a moment!
I’ll share with you one of my first BIG failures. (The truth of the matter is I’ve had some MUCH BIGGER failures than what I’m about to share with you. They’re big, and frankly, I haven’t figured out how to tell them in “blog length” yet…)
Let’s get back to my first major flop as an adult.
When I was in college, I took a job working for a mortgage company as a receptionist part-time. I was a horrible receptionist. Waiting for the phone to ring was incredibly boring, and so I began sitting with a colleague and watching what he was doing. I asked questions left and right and began putting the puzzle pieces together. Early on, I began helping my colleagues and learning the ins & outs of the business. Though they’d hired me as a receptionist, I was quickly able to do substantially more (and all because I was too bored in between phone calls!) It was 2005 and if you were an adult in 2005, then you might recall it was the largest housing boom our country had ever experienced. As a result, this mortgage company I found at was incredibly busy. For this reason, my colleagues were eager to let me learn and help in any way I could. The owner of the company caught wind of what I was doing and within 9 months he had offered me a full-time position to run an entire department alongside one of my colleagues – she ran one office, I ran the other. I was only 19 years old!
Queue: the downward spiral (yep, it happens that quickly)
When I was offered the promotion, the CEO told me that I needed to quit college. He explained there would be no way I could handle full time work and full time schooling and that I would be succeeding more by taking this position than I could with a college degree. Now, I like challenges and I dislike people telling me what I can and cannot do. I agreed to quit school, but had ZERO intention of actually doing so. I remained enrolled in all my courses. It got pretty hard, pretty fast. I’d take a class at 7am, work from 8:30 to 6 and then head back to school from 6:30-9:30 most weeknights. I was exhausted. I brought my work home with me that I didn’t finish during the day and I would alternate between work and homework when I got home at night. I began missing a class here or there. Shocking, right?
I remember walking in to one of my finance classes one evening. I sat down and the instructor handed out an exam. I thought it was a handout for note-taking until the girl beside me said it was our midterm exam! I had missed the prior one or two weeks, at least. I looked the exam over, seeing if I could take some guesses. I didn’t even understand the questions – the terminology was foreign. I handed it back to the instructor with what little I could guess at, and the tears started flowing. I can vividly remember how crushed I felt walking back to my car that night. I sobbed the entire way home. It wasn’t as much the failing grade I was facing, it was that the CEO was right – I couldn’t handle school and work. I wasn’t as tough as I thought I was. See, this wasn’t just one course. I was facing this in EVERY class that semester. I wasn’t passing any of them midway through.
I withdrew from the courses and took the rest of the semester off to give myself some breathing room. I had to use the next couple of months to figure out what I really wanted: the career or finishing school. Now what I haven’t told you thus far is that I was also on academic scholarship. My scholarship was rescinded when I withdrew, with no promise of being able to earn it back in the future.
Think back to the failure you recalled for yourself earlier. Take yourself to that moment. It’s humbling, it’s devastating, it’s tough to get back up when you’re on the ground. Did you change course? Did you try the same thing again? Did that moment shape who you became thereafter?
That failure broke me in that moment, and I had to figure out what I wanted for my life. I ended up re-enrolling. I met with the financial aid department and pleaded for my scholarship and/or student loans so that I could re-enroll. I knew I had to CHANGE SOMETHING or else I’d be facing the same result all over again. I was on academic probation with my scholarship, but earned it back after proving myself the next semester. I had to remind myself of my WHY for wanting to finish college. My why and my vision were what I would constantly fall back to when I was exhausted, burnt out and questioning my capability again that next semester. That push ended up being the best decision of my life because as you might recall, the housing market boom turned into a historical housing meltdown by 2007, and I was laid off. The company didn’t make it through the recession.
I learned in that moment that I was the only one responsible for my own future. That CEO who asked me to quit school was the same man that laid me off a couple years later. Interesting, isn’t it?
I’m here to remind you that whatever failure you faced, or are facing right now, it’s not the end of the road. It’s just an intersection. It’s entirely up to you which direction you go from here. All that matters is that you keep driving.
As you can see from my story, I was a workaholic by nature. Years later, I learned that it was absolutely necessary for me to build in MARGIN. It’s the very reason that I created the Morning Routine. If you’re lacking margin or allowing one day to bleed into the next, download this FREE tool today.
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