I had breakfast this morning with an old friend. Our kids have grown up together since day care days, and as professional women, we’ve enjoyed getting together over the years to compare notes on life as a working mom.
This morning I found myself mentioning how I’ve recently looked back on my career, wondering if some of the moves I’ve made were mistakes or not. As I told Julie, “I can ask the question, but won’t know the answer for another ten years!”
Julie’s response surprised me, “You know, I see your career so differently,” she said, “you’re constantly reinventing yourself!”
Hmmm…I hadn’t thought about it that way.
We all encounter potholes and detours along the career path. Whether it’s being sidelined by a bad boss, a key customer that fails to pay or a layoff that forces you to rethink your plan, forced change can be unsettling. No matter when they come, these little speed-bumps can lead to decisions you might second-guess later.
Have you ever beat yourself up (figuratively) for quitting too soon, or jumping at an “opportunity” that didn’t turn out so well?
I know I have.
What a surprise a little perspective can be.
There I was, wondering if some of my detours were errors, or worse yet, moves made from fear of success or failure (it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes).
I wasn’t owning my decisions.
Julie set me straight.
No matter what you hear, the truth is that building a new business is hard. Sure, there are days when you’re be over the moon with excitement about a big deal you won or a huge success with a client.
And there are likely to be just as many days when you wonder, “What the heck am I doing?”
It’s days like that when you need a good friend or an objective adviser to pop you upside the head.
When everything is so close, so personal, it’s had to see what’s good and what’s not. Maybe you see failure where others see one more step toward the right solution.
Thomas Edison, the eternal optimist, famously said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Have you really failed, or just not succeeded yet?
Maybe that detour was an important learning experience you needed to prepare you for what’s next.
Personally, I needed a little reminder that reinvention is a good thing. It’s what keeps me fresh and helps me provide new insights for clients rather than spouting off the same old “solutions” that have become worn out and ineffective.
In the start-up world, they call it pivoting, and the faster you do it, the better. (See this great post by Steve Blank: Business plan not working? Time to pivot.)
Understanding when something isn’t working is not failure. It’s an important ingredient in your success.
You’ve probably heard the adage that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Flip that around…why would you keep doing something that’s clearly not going well when you could invest that time in trying another approach?
Don’t hesitate. Don’t apologize. Just keep on reinventing yourself or your business, and eventually, you’ll get where you need to be.
Image by salady.