Falling short of expectations is never fun. Even when we work hard, it just wasn’t good enough. Whether we place 2nd or 26th, it’s still not a good feeling. The most successful people don’t look at failure as a dead-end. Rather, they consider the situation a learning opportunity, and commit to making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Of course, for individuals who are constantly competing, failure is bound to happen from time-to-time. The flip side holds true as well … the more one tries, the more times one will succeed.
Rejection after Job Interview
We’ve all had a job interview where we failed to advance. In some cases, we made it to the last two candidates standing, but received the unfortunate “you are the runner-up” phone call. If the job was important to our career, we are going to be unhappy, dejected, and cautious about any future interviews.
The top-notch people take a different approach altogether. While they’re unhappy about the bad news, they look for ways to make a better impression at the next interview. I recommend that we use this opportunity to be introspective. Let’s take the time to consider why we failed to earn the position. Were we unprepared for questions that were asked? Did we lack confidence? Did we project arrogance? In some cases, though, the cards were stacked against us, and there was little we could do to be selected. The other candidate was running on the inside lane because he was well-liked by several executives. Regardless of the circumstances, we must do whatever possible to address issues that we can control.
Failing an Important Professional Certification Exam
In my work as a corporate trainer, I prepare students to take tough professional exams, such as the PMP®, Agile Scrum, and ITIL® Foundations v3. For the PMP from the Project Management Institute (PMI), students will often invest up 100 hours of study time. The exam consists of 200 questions, and many of them are situational in nature. Even when well-prepared for the exam, many students report that the exam was grueling.
Unfortunately, not all students will pass the PMP® exam on the first try. I knew of one individual who fell short of the passing grade, and he stated the following: “This exam is not for me. There’s no way I will ever pass it … so I’m not going to try anymore!” From my interactions with this student, I was confident that he could pass it, but he needed to have the motivation to study and learn the material.
I know another individual who failed the PMP exam, and he called me for advice. Near the end of the call, she noted: “Dr. Flores, I was discouraged with the results, but I’m not going to quit. After thinking through my test experience, I have a clear idea how to prepare for the re-take.” Two weeks later, this student called to inform me that she was a brand new PMP! The people who are unwilling to accept defeat will eventually realize success. It’s only a matter of time.
We should look at failure as part of being competitive. It will hurt to fall short of our goal, to be sure. However, once we accept the situation, and figure out how to resolve it, we can give it another try. The lesson here is that perseverance is often the answer to earning what we want from life.