The Best Career Advice in a Word – Failure

The Best Career Advice in a Word – Failure

There are lots of books, blogs, and articles professing the latest, greatest or best career advice. But, when you dig down and really look at why some people are successful and others aren’t, it all comes down to how you deal with failure.

We all want to succeed, to win, and to be recognized and acknowledged for being good at something. But as humans, everyone has some level of self-doubt, a pesky little voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough. For many that little voice translates into fear of failure.  And, because we fear failure, we do everything we can to avoid it.

By avoiding failure are you avoiding your own success?

I once worked for a woman who owned her own business. After working there for about nine months I started to notice she was, in many ways, inhibiting the growth of the company.  I realized that she was unknowingly sabotaging her own success and that of her business. At first, I was shocked by this realization, but then I remembered something she told me when I interviewed for the job – she said when she started the business she planned for contingency, for everything that could possibly go wrong, but the one thing she didn’t plan for was being successful.

This strong, talented and intelligent woman was so afraid her business would fail, she was not allowing it to fully succeed.  In other words, she was so busy focusing on not failing, she wasn’t doing the things she needed to do for herself or the business for it to be a success.  Her fear of failure had become a barrier to her success.

Are you letting fear get in the way of your success?  Are you sabotaging your own career?  If so, stop and ask yourself the following question:

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

Many years ago, a friend gave me a silver bar with this quote carved into it – “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” It ended up being one of the best gifts and some of the best career advice I ever received. (Thank you Carrie!)  I set the bar on top of my computer monitor at work.  Looking at that bar and asking myself the question every day changed my way of thinking.  It gave me the courage to step outside of my comfort zone, to do and say things I probably would not have done otherwise. Sometimes, I take it a step further and ask myself, “If you do fail, what’s the worst that could happen?”

“It’s not win or lose, it’s win and learn”  – R&B star Ne-Yo

We’ve all experienced some form of failure and lived through it.  I’ve found that my biggest successes and my greatest insights have come out of what could be considered failures.  Instead of being afraid of failure, embrace it as a learning opportunity and part of your journey.

Stop letting fear of failure derail your career.  Just go for it – your career success is worth it.  If things don’t turn out the way you want, learn from the experience, move on and go try something else – you’ll be glad you did.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Share with us on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or simply leave a comment.

[credit name=”Mihai Maxim” nurl=”″ via=”shutterstock” vurl=”” license=”TOS” lurl=””]

Passionate advocate for the advancement and empowerment of women. Prior HR exec and co-founder of Ask Ajna - helping women find their voice in the workplace.

1 Comment

  1. What a post Jae. I have never though I would be advising someone about failure. But your post not only inspired me but also I am going to inspire others that don’t over think about your failure, just focus on your goals and work for them. Success will be yours. Great piece.


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