What to Do When You Feel Like You’ve Failed (3 Minute Read)

News flash: You aren’t perfect at your job.

Neither am I.

Some time ago, I went through a season in my business that required me to learn some new communication skills. In reflecting on the situations, I admit I feel like I failed in some elements of how I handled each unique situation. At the same time, I saw lessons to strengthen my skills for the future. Here are a few:

Reputation is important, but worshiping what others think is unwise.

As a people-pleaser who prides herself on getting along with just about everyone, it’s difficult to accept the realization that someone may not feel that what we offer is valuable. Sometimes I have to revisit one of my internal business distinctives: we are not a fit for everyone, and everyone is not a fit  for us.

We are blessed with a great client family, and are glad to meet new potential clients. But each need is different, and sometimes, our model or level of expertise is not a match.  I cannot live in fear of what a potential client might say about us if we don’t end up feeling alignment with one another. I just need to handle each situation with the best professional spirit that I can.

Fault is rarely one-sided.

After a work history primarily in good hearted non-profits, it’s been a learning curve to discover that there are people who will take advantage, lie, not follow through, or approach things in a self-absorbed way, all of which can cause a situation to go sour. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s intriguing or disappointing (or both) when it does.

Even then, I can ask myself, “What could I have done to handle or guide the situation differently?”

This is a wise question provided I don’t go too far and use it as a reason to beat myself up. It’s fair to acknowledge that I may only be 10% of the problem—but I still contributed. Too often, we aren’t even willing to accept a small percentage of responsibility, and we lose out on growth because of it.

Is it failure, or learning?

You’ve probably heard the quote, “There is no failure, only learning.” I think that’s probably true much of the time. In the situations I grew from, I did feel some sense of failure, but I sure learned some things that will help me temper or even avoid such situations in the future.

We often grow more from the situations where we made mistakes or wrong turns than in the general day-to-day of life. The goal is to keep those mistakes small enough that the negative impact is minimal, while we maximize the lessons to be learned.  

What lesson have you learned recently that will help you in the future?

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