“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path”
I reposted this unattributed quote a couple of weeks ago, as I often do when something resonates, and I think it’s worthy of further discussion. It got me thinking about careers, and the inevitable times we face failure, or things don’t go the way we planned - missed promotions, difficult or toxic clients, colleagues or leadership teams…
While hardships can also bring renewal - it can take time and it’s not without pain. Once the storm is over there is usually a big mess left in its wake that can take time to clean up - there are things to fix and things to replace.
Workplace storms come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is a slow build, and you think you have time to prepare for it (or avoid it all together), but sometimes it hits hard and fast. Either way there is damage caused and the grief process kicks in.
What does the grief look like? Blame, recrimination, self-doubt, fear, anger, sadness? They may all be valid emotions at the time but the longer you carry them around the more bitter they taste. The hardest part can be accepting your own role in what happened and the mistakes you made. In recognising our own role there are wonderful opportunities for letting go of the past and for growth.
You can’t change the storm, or the actions of others, but you can change your approach and build new skills.
Some of my greatest failures have led to new opportunities and some of my biggest successes. That doesn’t mean I haven’t carried around resentment and grief at times - it just means that over time they become less important.
Here's what I have learned:
1. Sometimes it's OK to quit - not wanting to let others down can often mean you are letting yourself down
2. You can’t please everyone – it’s impossible, so just do your best (and see point 1)
3. Be wary - but don’t be afraid to trust again
4. Don’t make assumptions - ask questions
5. When it feels overwhelming - step back and take a balcony view for some perspective
Failure does not define you, learning from mistakes and moving on does. The most important piece of advice I can give is to talk to the people you trust to listen and also give you a kick back into the now when the time is right. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.