The title might be a bit misleading. This isn’t about a time I failed miserably at something and wanted the ground to open up and swallow me (it’s happened). It might have seemed more like that at the time, but this story has a happy ending…because I win in the end. Let’s face it, a perceived ‘huge failure’ has probably happened to all of us several times in our lives. Not only that, but day to day we all suffer minor failures regularly. Things just don’t go right with something…work, sport, training, friends, family, relationships… sometimes several at the same time.

It’s usually stuff that doesn’t have a huge negative impact on how we feel, because generally people are quite good at dealing with small events like this. We know that things usually sort themselves pretty quickly. But bigger events usually do affect us. It’s human to be…human. Flawed, vulnerable and insecure. There’s a couple of concepts that apply to the following story. They are not mine, it’s only through reading articles and listening to some cool people online that I can really see how relevant they are after the fact of the event happening.

Being patient and the art of fighting back.

I can’t remember specifically how long ago it was, possibly 8-9 years, but I had lost my job with one of the major Irish banks and obviously needed to find something pretty quickly. I was hired on a 2 year contract, and as it finished right in the middle of the financial crisis I wasn’t kept on. Being out of work is not something I EVER envisaged happening to me when I was younger. This was for no other reason than I always wanted to work, and had done since I was 12 – starting at the races with my dad. But what you think will happen in life, and what will actually happen in life…yeah, they don’t exactly match up a lot of the time. One of my colleagues at the time also got let go, but he picked up a job pretty quickly with eBay. He was kind enough to let me know they were still hiring and got me an interview. I think I’d done two interviews in my entire life before this. I didn’t get the job. I remember wondering for a long ‘why didn’t they call back?’. When I look back now I know why – I was shit in the interview. Not enough practice, not enough experience. Why would someone hire a guy who had a shit interview? What do I think about it now?

THANK YOU MISS EBAY INTERVIEWER. THANK YOU SO, SO MUCH.

I am grateful.

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Seriously, thanks.

Who knows where I’d be now if I got that job?

I would guess far, far removed from where I am right now. I have no doubt I would be making a lot more money than I currently do, but money doesn’t equal happiness. It can remove stress, provide comfort – but it cannot buy fulfilment.

I know I was quite naïve at the time…I’ve grown up a lot since then. I wasn’t equipped with the street smarts to have any idea about fighting back. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t lazy, I just didn’t know how to react properly. I felt sorry for myself, wondered why the world hated me and avoided interviews for the next while. The opposite of what I’d do now. As long as you are willing to work hard consistently you will win in the long run, and that’s what you should aim for. Success doesn’t come overnight (I don’t consider myself a success, this is just an observation).

Work hard, keep showing up, win the long game. Always fight back.

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Life is coming to get you, that doesn’t mean you have to be unprepared.

Analyse where you went wrong. Do things better. Always be on offense. Life is going to suck at certain points, so be ready to fight back. I look at where I am now and I know I sucked at fighting back then. But the more you have to do it, the better you get at it. Part of developing this ability to fight back, or how to work at improving yourself is the skill of self awareness. I had a conversation with a client after class about this recently. You need to be able to identify where you’ve been, to know where you are, and to know where you’re going in life if you want to be happy. Otherwise things just kind of slip by. Some people plod along aimlessly and are probably happy enough. Ignorance is bliss. But I’m not so sure that works out in the long run. I called this post ‘my biggest failure’, because when I look back it was a huge turning point in my life. The ‘big’ part wasn’t the fact I failed, it’s what happened afterward. It was the single biggest moment for defining my career path. The big failure that put me on the road to the career that I now know I love, but I had to wait a long time to actually see it for what it was. If something similar happens to you always remember – if you’re willing to analyse what you could do better, be patient, work incredibly hard and ALWAYS, ALWAYS fight back…you’ll win in the long run.

There is ALWAYS a way to win.

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