“This is mortifying; I cannot fathom to go into work tomorrow, I think I’m going to quit,” Sarah said as she nervously played with her coffee mug.
“What are you talking about?” I shot back, “I do not care how bad you think it went, there is no way that it was nearly as bad as you claim it to be.”
“I completely froze and they were all staring at me, it was horrifying,” Sarah said as she covered her face with her hands.
Sarah had just had an interview for an internal promotion and she felt it had not gone well. She had not been told it had not gone well, this was simply her perception of her performance.
“Perhaps your perception of the situation is the problem,” I said slowly.
We tend to view ourselves with a much harsher lens than others, especially when it has to do with our abilities.
“No,” Sarah responded confidently, “I totally fell flat on my face in that interview…it was so embarrassing. I do not even want to go back into work; I regret even applying for the job.”
The fear of failure is so much greater than an actual failure. Putting yourself out there and trying to better one’s life is nothing one should be ashamed or embarrassed of, but rather, something you should be inherently proud of.
“You could ask your supervisor for areas of improvement for your next interview,” I said slowly, hoping to instill some sense of hope for the future. “What would the point of that be?” Sarah fired back at me, “to just get humiliated again? No thank you, I am done.”
Sarah was true to her word. She never asked for feedback on her interview, so she was never given a real answer as to why she was not the successful candidate for the position. Everything at work ticked forward, but Sarah remained stagnant, mentally and in her position within the department.
“I’m never applying for another promotion again,” Sarah said defiantly and that seemed to be the closing sentence of the conversation.
Sarah never did apply for another opportunity in her department. She watched as others, who were much less qualified than her, receive opportunities she never threw her name in the hat for. She became moody and negative about her workplace and loathed the start of each week. Her performance at work started to deteriorate and she could not muster the energy to do anything to correct this problem.
Any person who achieves success also achieves a lot of failures. Success and failure go hand and in hand. One who is successful must also experience failures because it is part of the journey towards success.
The next time you fall flat on your face, no matter how mortifying it may feel in the moment, remember to try and find the lesson in the pain. There is no one who is extremely successful who has not failed at least as much, if not more than they have succeeded.
Success and failure are not opposites, but rather part of the same process. In order to become successful, you must experience failure, much more than you would like to, but it is all part of the process.