We’re in the middle of helping you learn to succeed on the job, so you may be wondering why this post is all about failure. In order to explain, allow me tell you a little something that I learned from a hula hoop teacher. Yes, I’m being totally serious. (And BTW, if you ever have the chance to take a hula hoop class, I totally recommend it!)
When you are learning to hula hoop around your waist, knee, chest, shoulder, etc.—or any time you try to pick up a new trick—you drop your hoop. A lot. Many teachers will spend time showing you how to gracefully pick up the hoop by incorporating it into your dance and movements. This is wonderful and helpful for beginners, but one teacher put it very simply, which I also appreciated: “If you’re not dropping your hoop, you’re not trying anything new.”
This philosophy can be applied to anything else in life. You have to fail a little bit in order to grow and truly succeed. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the difference between when amateur musicians or athletes practice compared to when professionals practice. Basically, amateurs do the things they already know how to do because it’s easy and comfortable, whereas professionals push themselves to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable, because, ultimately, that’s how they get better.
In other words, if you want to succeed, you’re going to have to let yourself fail a little bit first.
Now some failures in life are the ones you allow yourself to experience, and some of them are forced upon you by external factors. The important thing to remember is that no matter how you come into your failure, you need to approach it with an open mind and try to learn as much as you can from it.
To help illustrate this point, I have collected a few stories about failure that I’d like to share with you.
- How to Get Fired from Your Internship (And What to Do Next) Stephen Ma started slacking as soon as he discovered his internship wasn’t what he thought it would be. He shares how getting fired helped set him on a career course that was ultimately a better fit.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Fail: One Intern’s Story Melissa Nguyen quit her job, got rejected from grad school, and became an intern again at the age of 26. But she sees the future and it still looks bright.
- 3 Tips for Finding Your Future Dream Job Marie Hernandez got fired and found herself unemployed at 30. Instead of applying for whatever came her way, she embarked on The 50 Jobs Project so that she could find a job and company that matched her needs.
I hope these stories will help you understand that sometimes the most successful thing you can do is to fail. Go big and let that hoop clatter to the ground thunderously. Then take a deep breath, pick it up, and start all over again. Good luck!!