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Career advice

Turn Your Failure into Success

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by Nicole Gunn

27 days ago

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If you think you have never failed at something you are either lying to yourself or you haven’t really tried anything beyond your comfort zone. Sometimes you need to take risks – and with risk comes the chance of failure.

Making mistakes is part of life and it is your mistakes that will help you grow as a person. When things don’t go to plan, take the opportunity to reflect on what you did so that you can do better next time.

The number one rule is to take responsibility – own your mistakes. Don’t play the blame game “it was this person’s fault that this happened”. Look at your actions – what did you do, or say, or what did you not do or say?  Learn the lessons for next time.

When I was working as a manager in retail, I took a risk. I left my permanent position for a casual role as a resourcer in recruitment in the hope that it would eventually lead to a better career. Now let’s break that down - I left a full-time high-paying retail job for a lower-paying casual job. Many of my friends said I was crazy.

One day, I was let go from this role on the spot with no warning. The joys of being a casual!

“Great,” I thought. “Now what do I do?”.  I reflected:

  • Did I do something wrong?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What are the positives I could take from this?

One thing I got from that position was more experience, for which I am thankful. If I hadn’t taken the risk, left my permanent role, put my recruitment “L” plates on and gained some experience, I wouldn’t have that extra skillset that people2people were looking for. Sometimes one door needs to close so you can open the door on a new opportunity.

I took a risk and I failed – or did I? As it turned out people2people were recruiting for fresh 360 consultants for their Perth office. Which, fast forward, leads me to today. I now work with people2people who offer fantastic training, career development and it is a full-time permanent position. Failure turned into success!

A high-profile example of turning failure into success is Perth businessman Andrew Forrest:

Andrew Forrest could have easily blamed others after he was forced out of Anaconda Nickel in the early 2000s. Instead, he took time to regroup and look at his options. By 2003 he was setting up the early stages of what would become a strong competitor against the likes of BHP and Rio Tinto in the iron ore production game in Western Australia. (The Accidental Billionaire - The Weekend Australian Magazine – 24 May 2008)

FMG recently posted record profits (The Australian Financial Review – 26 August 2019) and Andrew Forrest is currently listed at number 7 on the Forbes Rich List. His success has enabled him to become one of Australia’s most generous philanthropists, mainly through the Minderoo Foundation that he and his wife Nicola established in 2001.

When discussing career journeys, one of my colleagues said:

“When I was in high school, I wanted to be a hairdresser.  I did two weeks work experience at a local salon and I hated it! The fumes from the colours made me feel sick, I hated being on my feet all day and I’m not sure the manager liked me very much.  Am I a failed hairdresser? Nah… I just prefer sitting in the hairdresser’s chair having someone fuss over me.”

When you make mistakes in life, own them, reflect on them, learn the lessons and then shout out, “Next!” Turn your failures into success.

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