My blogs normally focus on topics of direct interest to internal auditors. However, I often receive notes from readers outside the profession who can relate to the messages I share. The fact is, we all share common experiences – particularly when it comes to our careers. Regardless of the profession you are pursuing, there will be highs and lows. In my own career, I experienced periods of extraordinary success, often followed by a disappointment or two.
We’ve all been there. We thought we were the leading candidate for an executive assignment with a high-profile company, only to learn that the selection panel went in a different direction. We were in line for a promotion, only to learn that the boss selected one of our colleagues. Or, in an even worse scenario, we were let go from a job we loved due to new leadership wanting to go in a different direction, or company downsizing. These situations are disappointing from a career standpoint, and they can be very stressful on a personal level. But how we respond can impact the rest of our lives.
Sadly, I’ve known many who suffered a professional setback and never recovered. They just couldn’t get over the hurdle and carry on with their professional or even personal lives. I recall at least three times in my own career when I had my heart set on a promotion or assignment and didn’t get it. Each time, failure presented me with a choice: I could press on and thrive, keeping an eye out for future opportunities, or I could quit — literally or figuratively — and let failure define me.
A key to a successful career is resilience – the capacity to bounce back from difficulties, maintain a positive attitude, and excel despite adverse circumstances. A Harvard Business Review article, ““5 Ways to Build Your Resilience at Work,” sums up the nature of professional resilience very nicely:
“More than five decades of research point to the fact that resilience is built by attitudes, behaviors and social supports that can be adopted and cultivated by anyone. Factors that lead to resilience include optimism; the ability to stay balanced and manage strong or difficult emotions; a sense of safety and a strong social support system. The good news is that because there is a concrete set of behaviors and skills associated with resilience, you can learn to be more resilient.”
Responding to career setbacks can be challenging, but it’s crucial to handle them in a constructive and resilient manner. Here are 10 tips that I would urge on how to respond to defeat or career setbacks:
I’m not suggesting that failure guarantees future success. You should always examine the reasons you didn’t succeed and seek to grow and improve. Learning is one of the greatest gifts of failure. I’m just urging you to not let failure define you. I would say the same of success. Both are merely mile markers on your journey. Neither is a destination.
How have you handled disappointments and setbacks? Share your experiences with me on LinkedIn or Twitter, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.