Not getting that promotion and handling failure

We talk a lot about the need to fail and there are lots of great nuggets of wisdom like “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” and “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”  But doesn’t that all sound like a bunch of hooey when failure visits you personally?

The best example of this phenomenon is when one doesn’t get a promotion.   As Amy Gallo puts it in her HBR blog post “Didn’t Get That Promotion?

Getting passed over for a promotion can be disheartening and even humiliating. Whether you thought you deserved the job or were promised it, no one likes hearing that they didn’t meet the mark.

It is a rejection that’s more painful than any save for unrequited or lost love.  One can brush off a failed project or presentation fairly easily… at least compared to hearing that one didn’t quite cut it. 

Gallo and her experts hit on familiar points up front: act ( but don’t react), get some outside perspective, no whingeing.  However, I found the last two points the most valuable from my experience.  I would go even further: reframing the experience and reenergizing one’s network are essential to make the obvious work.  One can’t exercise patience, get “outside > in” feedback, then take appropriate action without taking those two steps first.

PM Quote of the Day — Samuel Beckett

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Writer’s block is the bane of every author; and what is writing a book or play but a project?  Such fear of failure often prevents us from attempting the challenging, the unknown, and the innovative. 

But aren’t even the greatest triumphs of history shot through with small bits of frustration and compromise?  How many opportunities have we let slip because the time or the terms weren’t “just so.”  Nothing is ever perfect, so remember that sometimes we need to settle for “perfect enough”.

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