Why Learning How to Handle Failure is Necessary for Your Career
Think of it statistically: the more you try, the more often you will succeed, but also the more often you will fail. And while that may seem like a negative statement to some, it’s important to focus on the positive portion of that sentence: you will succeed. Just as how all things that go up must go down, all individuals who succeed must learn how to handle failure at some point.
One of our favorite examples of failure’s necessity for success is J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. While Rowling’s experience is commonly used to demonstrate the importance of failure, it’s one that we find especially inspiring because of the polarities of Rowling’s states of success and failure.
At the time in her life during which she began writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling was clinically depressed, jobless single mother, and as poor as she could have possibly been without facing homelessness. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that Rowling had hit rock bottom, but interestingly enough it was her sense of hopelessness that led to her success. Psychologically, when we hit “rock bottom,” we become less risk-averse; in other words, because there’s nothing to lose, we’re not afraid of losing anything! This fearlessness is the ultimate reason Harry Potter exists.
When she began living a much simpler life with no income, J.K. Rowling began producing more and more writing. But her bad luck didn’t end just because she started writing more; in fact, her first Harry Potter novel was rejected 12 times before finally being published. Instead of taking this rejection as the ultimate failure, Rowling utilized the perseverance she had gained in the past and continued approaching publishers — and thank goodness she did!
The key to Rowling’s success is that she experienced failure and then perceived that failure as a tool to utilize for success. When we face failure, it’s important that we don’t consider it the end-all-be-all of our efforts. Instead, we should ask ourselves what caused the failure, and what steps we can take every day to try again, hopefully with a different outcome. It’s also important to remember that maintaining a positive attitude during this time is key to success.
Failure is a natural part of the job search process. Not every application will be accepted (or even read, realistically), and not every interview will go the way you want it to. But it’s important to utilize those emotional intelligence skills you’ve been honing to keep yourself motivated and get the best results out of your failures! Remembering that each failure is a new opportunity for success will not only change your mindset — we promise it’ll change your results.
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Originally published at Rake.