Failure. What a harsh word. One I’ve feared all my life.
I’ve been blessed with success my whole life. Always an A-student, school was easy for me, even a bit too much, as I was getting bored in class. My good results were not only due to good genetics. I am also a hard worker, which made me a top-performer/uber-achiever at work too. Which I still am, for the uber-achiever part at least.
Now back to failure. This past of small successes only made me more afraid to fail. The more successes I accumulated, the more pressure I was putting on myself to keep up with that “perfect” life I was building myself. I knew failure couldn’t be that bad, but still, I so didn’t want to go there.
And then the day came where I failed.
Here comes the fail
For the first time in my life, I failed. I didn’t meet the expectations. I lost my job. And it was the best day of my life.
I had never experienced so much freedom. I had always plan ahead, always knew what I was up to. For the first time of my life, I felt alive, here and now.
I couldn’t hide, I couldn’t keep on going. I had to face the truth: I am not perfect. So far from it in fact. And I love it. I love it because it means that I get to be myself, that I get to do what I want, try anything I wish to try, live to the fullest.
Failing for the first time got me to break that pattern, relieve that pressure I was putting on myself. I was gaining back control of my life.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
Learning through failure
After succeeding in different positions as a Communications Advisor, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went into retail, looking for a more dynamic role and a stimulating environment. I was simply sick of sitting behind a computer all day. I needed people, I wanted new challenges, and I was ready for a change.
I got one as I stepped into an Assistant Store Manager position. I wanted challenges, I got plenty. Be careful what you wish for! I was supposed to take over the communications and community aspect of our business, but before that, I had to learn to manage a floor.
My days working in a store were far behind me, and it took me a while to get acquainted to my new position. A bit too much time in fact. Everything was moving fast, very fast, and I wasn’t up to the challenge of leading that fast-paced show.
And it’s perfect in that imperfect way. As I stepped out of my comfort zone, I learned that what I thought would be fun and challenging was fun and challenging, but it wasn’t the kind of fun and challenges I was looking for/meant to take. I rediscovered my passion for communications, and for my role as a creative Communications Advisor.
I also learned more about me, having to work with amazing young people, which lead me to work more on accepting myself for who I am. I might not be the loudest, but my objective is to be only loud enough to be heard, which I can do when I’m writing. I might not be the boldest, but my objective is to be creative and innovative enough to be inspiring, which I get to do everyday working on different projects and meeting new people. I might not be the most out-going person, but all I care about is establishing true and deep connections with the people I meet. And that fail just reaffirm all those things for me.
“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen
Be true to yourself
On that day, I made myself the promise to be true to myself always, not trying to fit anymore into the set expectations but instead letting myself be, with all my qualities but also with all my flaws. I learned that I could fail, and that it wasn’t as bad as I thought, that in fact it was just another possibility to create the future I want, as long as I was able to get back on my feet. Failing, which I thought would be the worst thing in the world, was one delicious adventure. Cannot wait to fail again, and again, learning about myself and life along the way.
I learned to embrace myself, my whole self, instead of trying to fit in. To those who are shy, to those who like to take their time to think, to those who care with their whole heart and therefore are sometimes a bit slower than the rest of the world, smile. It doesn’t make you any less of an amazing worker, and I truly believe that those qualities that are often perceived as flaws in our fast-pacing world can make you an inspiring leader.