Saturday, January 22, 2011

5 Stages of Failure

After receiving another tough phone call, it's time for a pretty transparent blog post:

Let's face it:  Failure stinks.  Over the last few years I've experienced a lot of it.  I'm not sure why, but professionally it's been tough.  Being the overwhelming optimist helps, being a good actor helps too.  More than anything, having a supporting and loving wife who is by far and away my best friend in the world, makes all the failure palatable.

Through these experiences I've noticed that the stages of failure are very similar to the stages of grief.

The stages of grief are (which by the way I was amazed how many different versions of this there were):
1.  Denial and Isolation
2.  Anger
3.  Bargaining
4.  Depression
5.  Acceptance

Through "job hunting" these past few years I've noticed that every "no" I received via a phone call, I seem to process the rejection the same way.

The phone rings,
I say "Hello?", "May I speak to Chris?"
"This is him..."
"Chris, this is _______ from the _________school district (inset name of school) with some disappinting news.  We've decided to go in another direction with the hiring of __________(insert position here)."  They say.
I reply, "I understand, can you provide me any feedback, words of wisdom, advice moving forward?"

Then I take out a piece of paper and document everything they say hoping to find that magical piece of knowledge that will help me move forward.

What follows phone call I'm referring to from now on as the stages of failure:

1.  Hurt - As soon as the phone is off, my head goes into my hands.  I feel less of a person, less of a leader, and my heart aches.  Bottom-line its an emotional reaction.

2.  Questioning - Is this really the direction I want my career to go in?  Am I doing something wrong, going the wrong direction, is this what I'm "suppose" to be doing?

3.  Anger - What were they thinking not hiring me?  The thinking that: 'It's not me, it's their fault.'  This is such a defense mechanism it's hard to even type the words without finding them petty and immature.

4.  Helplessness - Maybe I'll just go back to doing what I normally do, just give up, continue watching others succeed and redirect my passion to learn, lead and grow to something else like a hobby.

5.  Resolution - Wounds licked, scars healed, ego bruised....I get back up, I move on, I seek to inspire once again, lead from the spot I am, love what I do every day, and realize no matter how I feel when that bell rings and those kids walk though the door, I know everything will be allright.

Through these stages the resolution is so very important.  Every interview and every opportunity I get to reflect, learn and grow, I always ask, reflect and focus on how I can get better.

I know for a fact I'm not perfect, I have tons to learn and I will be a great educational leader some day.

If I'm not okay with failing, how can I ever expect my students to be allowed to fail, allow to learn and grow and get better?  I read somewhere that a successful life doesn't come without failure.

Thank you for this opportunity, I will get better...

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