Lately, I’ve run into a lot of people who are feeling like they’re failures. Not that they’ve just failed at accomplishing a task, but that they are themselves failures. The economy since 2004 has taken a serious toll on America’s workforce. Ironically, we as a nation are incredibly productive; generating greater gross domestic productivity with fewer people in the workforce.
The downside is that our leadership can’t think of things for our workforce to do.
So lots of folks are stuck on the sidelines. Talented, formerly hard-working people are idle; looking in the mirror and feeling like failures. This is extremely painful and many of these folks are sharing their pain with anyone who will listen. Sadly, it’s inappropriate and counter-productive.
I don’t mean sharing their pain; they need to get it out, but where they’re sharing their pain. The lament their having gotten the raw end of the stick at networking events, in information interviews and even in job interviews. Places where they want to present themselves as viable, attractive players, but they’re hurting so much they just can’t contain themselves.
A Few Suggestions That May Help Coping With Feelings of Failure
1. Find a safe, small group of people, no more than seven, in a similar situation and talk through what happened to you. Take turns going around the circle venting. Listen to yourself, listen to the others. Don’t offer criticism of each other’s comments, just acknowledge their contributions.
2. Next explore what role the overall economy played in each participant’s getting laid off, fired or quit. Don’t offer criticism of each other’s comments, just acknowledge their contributions.
3. Next, explore what role individuals at former employers played in each participant’s departure from their previous employer. The number one reason most people leave a job is their relationship with their direct supervisor. Don’t offer criticism of each other’s comments, just acknowledge their contributions.
4. Then, explore what role you played in your leaving. Once again, DO NOT offer criticism of each other’s comments, just acknowledge their contributions.
5. Considering the only thing you have any control over is your behavior, go around the circle and talk out loud about what you might start to do differently, as you move forward.
Once, you start to voice your pain (in a safe, appropriate place) you’ll start to mend. You’ll begin to move from under the rock to on top of the rock. I can still hear my daddy, “You’re only a loser, if you quit when you’re down.” Then, you can begin to interact with potential allies from a position of the positives you bring to the workplace.
I have failed to accomplish my goals many times in my life. I have upon occasion felt like a complete and total failure. Eventually, because healing takes time, I have gotten back up and tried again. Sometimes, I’ve failed again, but as another wise soul once said, “If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.”
Maya Angelou said, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
I have no problem with your complaining, get it out, get it out loudly and then get on with doing something about it. Michael Jackson had a great song, The Man in the Mirror. Once you’ve wailed about the horrible injustice you’ve suffered, take a look in the mirror and decide what role you played in your downfall. Then decide what changes you’re going to make and get up and get back in the game. If you fail again, step back, adjust and try again.
I leave you with another of my daddy’s admonitions.
“Do something. I can fix wrong, I can’t fix nothing. And nine times out of ten, your something will be good enough until we try again tomorrow.”