If we had a crystal ball, life would be grand. But, because we don’t, we often find ourselves at the mercy of hindsight. Hindsight being 20/20, what is one setback you faced in your career that ended up being a blessing in disguise?
Midway in my career, I got involved in a startup environment as a co-founder. On many levels, this was a great opportunity. I worked way above my level, was exposed to so many new experiences and grew tremendously. The long hours, the intensity of the roles I took on and the salary sacrificing were not something to be thrilled about. Yet, the passion I felt for what I was involved in, far outweighed any negative impact and kept me moving forward.
One major setback I faced was that midway through this role, I had major differences of opinion with the other people in the management team. I discovered things and had to take a stand on certain issues. The short of it is that I had to pay the consequences of ‘being in the right’ and sticking to my guns. But for a number of reasons, I decided that I still wanted to work at this company despite the issues at hand. The situation was not tenable, as let’s face it, human emotions were involved. Rightly or wrongly, people felt strongly about what they did or did not do and tempers flared. It was not easy for anyone to separate work from personal issues and it made the going tough.
I kept to my plan and stuck it out in the company despite all the problems. I made a conscious decision to do so because I had a goal and I was determined to achieve what I set out to do. In hindsight, this turned out to be a blessing because it showed me, what I was capable of. I picked up a lot of skills, experiences and insights from my role, from the experiences I explored and which I made my own. These insights and experiences have helped pave the way for the roles I have explored since then.
I see now, that these skills and insights have really been in preparation for the career I embrace today. I did not see it then but it all makes sense from where I stand now.
Two points to make here. Firstly, you have to make something of your life. By this, I mean that it’s very easy to go along with how your life is unfolding. It’s tempting to just go with the flow and react thereafter and shrug your shoulders as if you were watching this all on telly. It’s hard work to think and plan, to strategise and work out what and where you want to be. But that gives you the edge you need. If you don’t set out to control your life and instead, sit waiting to be the recipient of whatever life hands you, you will feel that your life is out of control. So, while it is true that you cannot control what happens to you, you can certainly control how you react or deal with it.
Secondly, there are times when you think something particular about yourself. Perhaps, you may think you’re capable or you think that no, you would not make it through a particular situation. But thinking through scenarios, as you might well guess, is nothing like the real thing. There may be times when you think that you might react in a particular way and then find that, in the actual situation, your reaction is quite the opposite.
You are not always put in a situation where you are really tested and where you need to put your foot down about who it is you are and what you stand for. But when that time comes, when that test arrives, you need to be prepared about the stand you will take. Sometimes, you have days to mull it over. Frequently though, this time is literally seconds long. What does this mean? It means that you need to be sure of who you are and what you stand for. And this only happens when you let yourself be. This can only happen when you open yourself up to possibilities, experiences and opportunities. It means also that you need to open yourself to the possibility of failure. It is worth the effort.
About the author: Working with a wonderful team, Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters Magazine, a leading human resource publication. A lawyer by training, Rowena has spent the last 12 years in training and development. Pursuing her writing dream, she started the magazine four years ago. Rowena keeps a blog at http://rowenamorais.posterous.com/.
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