12 Most Inspiring Fails to Make in Your Career

12 Most Inspiring Fails to Make in Your Career

Normally, failing isn’t something to tout. But work-based mishaps are unavoidable. And instances of falling short can offer powerful insights about how to do things differently next time. Here are 12 job-related fails that fit the bill.

1. Get stuck in a rut

Falling into a workplace rut can happen so slowly it’s more like oozing. Getting your groove back takes work, self-awareness and discipline. But after you’re back on track, you’ll know you can do it again, and you’ll be able to recognize the signs of its presence.

2. Lose your job

I lost my job three times before I was 30 through “downsizings” in totally different sectors: the federal government, the publishing industry and then financial services. Getting laid off made me much more resilient and able to see the signs that so typically foreshadow workplace restructures.

3. Lose out when a finalist for a job

This humbling experience can ignite self-reflection. Pros see it as an opportunity to professionally and politely ask for feedback.

4. Take a career detour that doesn’t work

This is risk-taking, and there is plenty of growth in that. If you don’t take the opportunity, you won’t know. (No lingering doubts for me: I’m just not cut out for selling bonds at an investment bank!)

5. Trust a colleague who burns you

Instead of getting bitter about this one, use it to become better at assessing who has your back and who will stab you in it.

6. Be lied to, or misled, by a manager

Same theme, here. But the consequences can be much bigger. One way to deal with this one is to reach out to leaders, elsewhere, who do play fair, for counsel or advice.

7. Quit when you don’t have the next job lined up

Not. A. Good. Idea. Especially, if you are about to get engaged to your girlfriend (which is a long story that involves my now-husband and me living 14 time zones apart for 4 months after he popped the question.)

8. Alienate the office manager

These folks have more power than many office workers might realize. Stay on their good side or try to make amends if things go awry.

9. Make a mistake

The goal is to make that mistake only once. Then communicate to your boss what you learned and what you’ll change so it never happens again. A pattern of huge mistakes is a fail that gets you fired.

10. Work for someone you can’t stand

This is simply incredible training for how to maneuver a transfer to a different department or office. It’s also excellent motivation for a targeted, well-executed job hunt.

11. Take a job you don’t like

Sometimes you’ve got a hunch even before you start. Other times, the distaste isn’t clear until you’ve been wearing the work-ID tag for a while. No matter, after it happens, you’ll vet potential offers with more skill.

12. Take a calculated risk that backfires

Success in business is saturated with the stories of entrepreneurs or others who dared and failed.

Unfortunately, I have either personally experienced, or witnessed, each one of these on-the-job fails. I actually used my serial layoffs as the basis of a book proposal. And, no, that didn’t get published — yet! Still, I am convinced that those “fails” gave me insight and growth I would not have, otherwise. Do you agree? And if you do, what are some others you’d include?

Featured image courtesy of Chris Devers via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord

http://www.gaylordllc.com

Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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21 comments
eSkillCorp
eSkillCorp

@careerchatter @Careeradex @12Most Really inspiring article. Having such a positive note, puts things in a sweeter light.

MorberMarketing
MorberMarketing

I love this post Becky! You've hit it on the head on how to find your way along the road to a rewarding career.  Many people believe the bumps in the road are huge set backs, when in reality they're the tools that you need to chisel your way to a great job.

 

I love #10 - it was what inspired me to start my own company and I haven't looked back since! 

 

Thanks again for this Becky!

Cathy Bishop
Cathy Bishop

Thanks for the 12 lists. No, never quit a job (despite how dreadful it is!) if you never had another one guaranteed to be waiting for you. It's better to be safe than sorry. Pardon the cliche.

http://www.callboxinc.com.au/

 

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

Thanks, Brian. And I'll look forward to that post! 

dbvickery
dbvickery

Great list, Becky. Some of this list made me very intentional in job selections, and I got lucky (plus had a wife who would have made me feel good regardless of the outcome of the decisions).

 

My pre-professional career definitely had a few of these characteristics...and I talk about them in a 12 Most post that is queued to run in a couple weeks. Otherwise, we took gambles to move us from Austin...to Houston...to Greenville, SC...to Seattle...and now Denver.  Luckily #12 hasn't bitten me yet, and we've now had Mantis going for over 11 years.

econwriter5
econwriter5

Little trip down memory lane here...#1-3. Check. 6, 9, 10. Check. Check. Check. I've been burned by people in the past, so I'm always cautious when working somewhere and have learned to just observe for awhile. Office managers and secretaries always know more about what's going on in the office than anyone realizes.

 

It should be noted that it takes time to learn from these experiences. Probably more time than you'd like, too. In the beginning, it's hard to look back on them in any kind of logical, reasoned fashion. Sometimes, like after a lay off, the emotions are too raw. Recognize that, though. Don't fight it. Just let it be for a bit. You'll return to the experience, and with a little time, see some applicable lessons.

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

Yes, and yes! The fails I've made parenting could fill several lists of 12 Most! And I'm still learning... 

Staticulator
Staticulator

@DoubleDashP Oh Hello there : ). TY very much for the RT : ). Wishing you an amazing new day ahead : ).

DixieLil
DixieLil

 @BeckyGaylord I've had several of these happen in my career...and yes, it is a learning experience,and the good part is you usually don't make those mistakes twice! 

kirstenwright
kirstenwright

@kelseylibert Something like that...most of them really did benefit me though after I made them.

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

So true, @susansilver  Even good bosses have bad days. My inspiration for #10 was a boss who was so rigid that she required everyone in the office to sign up for a specific lunch hour (even though our work was independent and creative, not something like answering phones, where shifts make sense.) If someone was so engrossed in their work that they missed lunch, or cut into their appointed time, it was tough luck for them. That's only one example of made it unbearable. I left within two months.  

susansilver
susansilver

I had a #10. She was verbally abusive and I learned the same lesson as you. Don't quit, transfer to a different department.

 

I also learned there is a difference between your boss chewing you out because they are having a bad day and someone who just should not be in management at all.

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@MorberMarketing So glad other that your "fail" led to a great new start for you. It's all about how you react, respond and move forward after those experiences!

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@Cathy Bishop Hi, Kathy, and thanks for the feedback. I noticed the ".com.au" in your address, so you'd be able to relate to the quitting-before-the-new-job-was-lined-up fail led to my then-fiancé taking a job in Adelaide as I completed a four-month work stint in NYC!

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

 @econwriter5 Absolutely takes time to learn from these. I couldn't have written this post a decade ago, I don't think. Great point. 

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@kirstenwright I agree...although sometimes it takes quite a bit of time before the benefit emerges!

kirstenwright
kirstenwright

@beckygaylord of course - but that's the reality behind a lot of things!

n3rd00
n3rd00

@BeckyGaylord good things happen to people who wait

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