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And the Oscar goes to… not you.

How do you cope with failure? How do you cope with missing out when you really thought you were onto a winner?

If you saw the clip of Best Picture being announced at the Academy Awards 2017, you won’t be able to help cringing as you remember the awkward moment that La La Land producers, after being announced as the winner and 3 speeches of ‘I’d like to thank…’ in, had to announce; “this isn’t a joke. Best Picture is Moonlight” in what has been since been called the biggest faux pas in the Oscars history. 

Despite the fact La La Land won 5 Oscars of the 12 they were nominated for, including winning Best Director and Best Actress, as far as the papers are concerned at least, the Best Picture faux pas overshadowed these wins, as well as Moonlight’s rightful Best Picture win.

It can often feel like that with our own failures or shortfalls. When you’re applying for a job, it can stick in your mind that you were rejected from one position, even when you end up bagging a great job. A point of criticism from your boss can drown out an hour long positive career review. When you strive for your Oscar of your career, whether it’s an accolade, a promotion, a new job, or even a new qualification, missing out can hit hard. So how do we deal with this? How do we bounce back?

Failing is learning

It’s important to take a moment after you’ve missed out on something you wanted in your career. Can you figure out why you lost? Or is it possible to find out? If you’ve missed out on a job or promotion, it’s perfectly within your rights to ask why. But remember, only ask if you want to know the answer. Prepare for honesty, at best! You need to be ready to find out the very worst of yourself, whether it’s your CV shortcomings laid bare, or that you came across as arrogant in your interview, when the truth was that you were overcompensating for nerves…

Maybe you didn’t do enough and it’s your own fault. Maybe it’s not. The key thing to do is to work on what you can change, and move past the things you can’t. You can’t magic another 5 years of experience on to your CV for that job –you may just have to wait until you get there. Let the failure spur you on to working harder, and trying new things. Otherwise, write it off as in the past, and move on. 

Turn a loss into a win

Reframing a loss as an opportunity takes a lot of focus. But changing your definition of failure can be liberating, and life changing. The trouble with failure is that it’s seen as embarrassing, as inhibiting, and as final. But if you start to reframe ‘failure’ as inevitable and a learning opportunity, you’ll find it much easier to cope, and to look at it in a positive light.

It can be easy to choose to distract yourself from a shortcoming with comfort; whether that’s booking a holiday, eating, drinking, or busying yourself to prove you can succeed at the little tasks that make up a week. It’s a common reaction to something not going right in your career plan, and it can be good for your brain to take that break, to sort out your headspace.

However, although these behaviours and actions can help distracting and relaxing, they rarely lead to a productive next step. A new opportunity is unlikely to present itself to you to make up for the one you missed out on. So it’s essential that while you pause to take stock, that you look at yourself and career with fresh eyes. Start to weigh up what you want and why you want it. Then; how you’re going to get there. Maybe you could concentrate on improving some skills, either on the job or with a training qualification. Perhaps it’s time to leap out of your comfort zone or try something completely new! Whatever the answer is for you, make sure it turns that setback into a learning opportunity.

Carpe opportunitatem – Seize the opportunity! 

After you have identified possible next steps, it’s time to pick the right one. This action does not have to be immediate! Sometimes, the action is to wait. 

The opportunity doesn’t have to be equivalent to whatever the setback was. It could be an opportunity to reprioritise, to take lessons for self-esteem, to pick up a new hobby, to readdress your work-life balance, to take on a new course to help you move forward in your career. The key is to get thinking positively, and looking forward to your next steps. 

Here are a few key points to finish on, to help you reframe that F word. Feel free to pass on to any Oscar nominees you know personally…

1. Failure is inevitable, especially when you step outside your comfort zone.

2. Failure is integral on the way to success.

3. Successful people fail! You are in very good company! Steven Spielberg was rejected twice from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Dr Seuss had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers. Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime... the list goes on.

4. Making mistakes isn’t the end of the world – as long as you don’t keep making the same ones without making changes.

5. The only way to truly fail, is to give up.

Have you learned something from a past failure? Has a past failure led you to success later on? Comment below! If you'd like some advice on your next career move, get in touch with us today. For more blogs like this please visit the Building Careers website.

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