Failure is something we usually try to avoid at all costs, yet interestingly it provides us with the greatest opportunity to grow as people. As a society we honour and celebrate the individual or team that wins the gold medal, and sadly, in the eyes of some, the winners of the silver and bronze medals are viewed as failures. Realistically though, anyone who lines up to compete in the finals of a national or international competition should be congratulated on their achievements.

So what of the silver or bronze medallist? Or the finalists who don’t finish with a medal? Do they just walk away because they don’t win gold at their first attempt? How many elite athletes do you think would give up on their dream so easily? My guess is, not many! What is perceived by some as failure, in a champion’s mind becomes the motivation and drive to make the changes necessary to achieve the goals they have set themselves. This might involve finding a new coach, or experimenting with new techniques or training regimes. A champion must always be willing to fail, because in failing we learn much about ourselves and ultimately become a better and stronger person who is able to achieve at a higher level.

As a jobseeker, there are times when failure seems to greet us at every turn. It doesn’t seem to matter what we do, someone else gets the offer. It would seem that we have the experience and qualifications that are needed, yet somehow we miss out on the new opportunities that we hope for. Just like the elite athlete, we have a choice in what to do next. If we want things to change, we need to take a close look at how we do things, to identify where we can improve our presentation, either on paper, in person or both. Perhaps it will be beneficial to seek external advice and coaching, as a fresh set of eyes often brings a new and different perspective that we miss because we are too close to our situation and the way we have always done things.

Learning to deal with disappointment is a life lesson that is best learnt early. Picking yourself up again when things don’t go as you’ve hoped and planned, not only takes courage and strength, but also builds character that gives us greater capacity to cope with the curve balls of life that inevitably get thrown at us from time to time.

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