Describe a time or time period in which you have experienced failure.
I would have to go back to college. You know when you're going into college, you have big expectations and goals of yourself. I felt like I really fell short of the expectations that I set for myself. My college experience was not up to my expectations. My academic experience wasn't to the level that I wanted it and toward the end I really just found myself becoming complacent. I wasn't one of those students that who was happy with the comment "Cs get degrees", but towards the end that comment became more acceptable to me. I don't believe that it was a good thing.
How has that affected your post college life?
I guess moving forward I have tried not to become complacent. I know how easy it is to get complacent especially in the areas where you're supposed to perform a certain task. You have to work to earn money, and in my case, if I don't earn money then I don't have a place to live. It's a reminder for me to never become complacent in my job to where I had that same mentality towards the end of college.
"...to me it's not a coincidence that when you see those marathons on tv, the runner doesn't pass out at the halfway point. They usually pass out like two feet away from the finish line."
How did you overcome your feelings of failure?
I overcame by pushing through, nailing that last semester, and graduating. I came out that last semester with an A and three Bs. It was very difficult. Luckily for me, all of my classes had group projects and I had really great partners. I think that really helped push me to the finish line, but there were plenty of days where I woke up saying, "Maybe I shouldn't go to this class. Maybe I shouldn't turn in this midnight assignment. Maybe I shouldn't do X,Y,and Z." In my current job, I can easily find myself feeling I shouldn't perform this task or that task. I find myself in this rut and I see the finish line there, but it's just hard to finish the race.
So what would you tell someone who is in a very complacent time in their life?
I would ask them what their goals are first and then I would tell them to stay the course. I would tell them that I understand where they are. There are alot of people who end up in the situation where they go through X number of semesters and they have like seven credit hours remaining and they don't finish. People, including myself, always say, '"They're so stupid. Why don't they just finish?", but people have lives and you never know what they're going through. It's easy to just get in a rut. The idea is that the finish line is supposed to motivate you, but to me it's not a coincidence that when you see those marathons on tv, the runner doesn't pass out at the halfway point. They usually pass out like two feet away from the finish line. They see it and they want so badly to get there, but their want to is just so draining that they physically can't make it. I could've easily been one of those people, but I realized that in order to get where I desired to be, I had to make it to the finish line. I think that is a big reason why I chose not to participate in my class's graduation ceremony. I had another race to start the day that I graduated. There was no time to celebrate. I allowed myself to take a break and then it was on to the next race.
So you graduated a year ago, have you experienced any failures post-college?
Yea. 2016 was a really great year for me. It hasn't been all roses, but it was nice overall. I wanted to not live in Birmingham. I wanted to find a city that I could really dig my roots and start growing a career and a family. That's something that I hoped would happen last year. I don't struggle with that greatly although sometimes I do wake up and wonder what I'm doing with my life. I wonder if this is the place that I'm supposed to be and if it is I wish that someone would make that abundantly clear so that I could stop looking at other cities.
I also don't think that I've been a really good friend. I know people are understanding, but I wish that I made a better effort to reach out to others and make time for those important relationships. I also wish that I was more empathetic towards people. In 2016, I really wanted to become a better me. I tend to be very cut and dry - straightforward. I tried not to take that approach with everyone, but I know myself and I know that I could have done better, especially with my new wife. She's not like me in that way and sometimes I try to make her fit my expectations.
"I don't want to feel like I'm just coasting. If I go down, then I want to go to the point where I can springboard back up. Auto-piloting through life doesn't work for me and my goals."
How do you encourage yourself when you feel down about your current stage in life or failed expectations of 2016?
I tell myself to stay the course. If you would've told me early last year that I would be where I am today with the job that I have now and the changes that have occurred, I wouldn't believe it. I wouldn't think that it's possible. In December 2015, I was wrapping up school and putting in applications everywhere. I thought that I had a secure position this one company. I put all of my eggs in that one basket and it failed. I was scrambling and thought that I was destined to sell premium cable out of a Sam's Club, but that's not how things happened because I stayed the course. I trusted in my preparation. I trusted in my work and I leaned on those two things to prove my value in the workforce. I told myself that someone would see my resume and want to get to know the person behind the sheet of paper. My resume was going to get me in the door. I was going to keep me in the door.
What has been your greatest takeaway from your experience with failure last year?
Failure is what you make of it. If my goal was to make $50k right out of school then last year was a failure. That wasn't my goal. My goal was to find a job with a great company that I felt like I could turn into a career. I feel like I achieved that goal. Failure is truly based on whatever expectation you have for yourself and your situation.
For others, some people are motivated by money or status. For me my career goals are to always feel like I'm progressing. I don't want to feel like I'm just coasting. If I go down, then I want to go to the point where I can springboard back up. Autopiloting through life doesn't work for me and my goals.
Andre, Marketing Specialist