But it doesn’t have to be so black and white. At least beyond the moment.
She told me that one of her directors had a job open that could be a good fit and asked if I would be interested. She knew I am being very selective and the role needed to be about more than just what I would be doing, but also about the team I would work with and the overall company culture. It indeed felt like a fit and was a chance to work as part of my friend’s team, not reporting directly to her, but to work towards the same goals. We both agreed that she wouldn’t exert any influence and let her director have the autonomy to make the decision completely, another sign of my friend’s good leadership.
I went through the interview process and met a wonderful group of committed, smart professionals who loved the company. I took nothing for granted and prepared as if it was the first interview of my career. The hiring manager and I discovered we have similar philosophies about marketing and branding. I looked at it as one of the handful of “Super Bowl” moments in my career. I felt I did well in the interviews and follow-up and demonstrated how I could make a significant positive impact on the company’s goals.
But I knew no matter how much experience or expertise I had, how prepared I was, or how I did in the interviews, there were no guarantees I would get the job. The hiring manager said I was a “great candidate” but she selected someone one who was a better fit for the role. I didn’t get the job.
I was disappointed in myself that I hadn’t done what was necessary. Second guessing what I had done. And wondering what else I could have done. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe that to change the outcome the next time, it takes introspection, constructive self-criticism and objectivity. You have to be willing to learn from losses and failures.
Hall-of-Famer-to-be Tom Brady says he has learned much more from his losses than all of his successes.
Brady: “I probably don’t remember all the wins, but I definitely remember all the losses.”
An epic statement about proportions considering he has had more success than any player in the 102-year history of the NFL and very little failure.
I covered college basketball as an undergrad at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and have never forgotten what All-American guard named Jon Sundvold told me after a gut-wrenching one-point loss in the NCAA Tournament for a team with high hopes and was ranked No. 1 in the nation that year.
Sundvold: “When you lose, you shake the other guy’s hand. Then you go get better.”
Brady’s and Sundvold’s mindset inspire me the times I’ve lost or failed at something meaningful to me. Adversity truly is the test – and revelation - of character, will and determination.
Life has its setbacks and nearly every human being will lose or fail at times. Failing is only permanent if you let it be. Never make excuses for why you didn’t win or succeed. Instead, owning each loss and learning from them will ensure exponentially more wins and success in the future.
Next time you face a big “L,” once the natural heartbreak has faded, think of the “L” as an opportunity to learn and get better rather than a loss.