In our achievement-driven career culture, the concept of “failure” is viewed negatively, the ultimate obscenity in the business world. While executives who take risks are commonly hailed as innovators and forward-thinkers, when these endeavors fail grandly, these same risk-takers may find themselves without a job. Sometimes companies who purport to learn from their mistakes instead assign the blame to a single division, group, or individual. It should come as no surprise that the most prosperous people have faced difficult—and often repeated—failure on their journeys to success. Whether you’re overcoming real or perceived failures on the job or in your career, how you deal with failure reveals your executive merits.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but executives who publicly admit their mistakes are more likely to succeed than those who fix them privately. Admitting failure shows decisiveness, authenticity, and an honest belief in future successes. Just as job interviewers ask, “What is your biggest failure and how did you learn from it?,” investors, CEOs, and potential employers want to know that their top team members can accept failure gracefully, determine what went wrong, and develop a concrete strategy for moving forward. Examining failure publically often creates a positive perception of executive talents. Public admittance of a professional failure can offer new perspectives on the underlying problems, allowing executives to move forward with a better understanding of their failures.
Reframe Professional Failures
Big or small, professional or personal, failures shape who we are. They can negatively impact our self-esteem, leading us to believe in our professional inferiority, or they might spur us on to greater success. Whether you’re most recent failure lies in a seemingly endless job search, frustration with an inability to advance professionally, or a quantifiable failure in your executive duties, failures teach us valuable lessons.
How to Learn from Failure
- Step back from the situation. View it not as how you failed, but why you failed.
- Create a new business model, taking into account miscalculations and missed opportunities from past failures.
- Recognize that low-risk careers mean settling for mediocrity, but accepting failure can drive a culture of high performance.
- Move forward. Once you’ve gleaned all you can from a setback, dig in your heels and move on with your career. Lingering in a failure leaves little room for future success.
The successes and failures of a career tell a story. They display leadership skills and executive competencies, give insight into business acumen, and portray failures as learning experiences. Call Executive Resumes Atlanta for a professionally written executive resume and expert reputation management services.