How Did You Fail Today?

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You may think this is a strange title for a blog about a job search.  Kind of rubbing it in when the phone isn’t ringing or there are no job offers to ponder.  It’s a fair question, and one of the most intriguing statements I’ve heard in a long time.


The statement came from Sara Blakely, who is one of Forbes Magazine’s newest billionaires.  In case you haven’t heard of her, she invented Spanx, the control undergarments that do what no diet has ever been able to do—make you instantly look thinner and toned.   What a great idea!  She turned a $5,000 investment into a $billion company.  So what does her story have to do with the title question?


She shared her story on The Early Show (CBS-TV) and when asked about people who inspired or mentored her along the way, she began with her father.  Every day he would ask Sara and the rest of the children that question, “How did you fail today?”  The intent was more, “…what did you try today?”  She said it motivated her to get out and try things so she would have something to report.  In her family, failing wasn’t a bad thing.   It was the sometimes result of effort and taking a risk.  Stretching to accomplish something.   When I heard her story, I thought, what a gift! 


How many job seekers get to the point of not wanting to try anymore, discouraged by what we label as failure?  We failed at the job and got fired or laid off.  We failed at putting together a decent job search.  We failed at the last interview.  Etc., Etc., Etc!   Instead of looking at rejection as failures, we would be wise to take a page out of Ms. Blakely’s playbook and consider ourselves successful as we stand up to take the next pitch or throw the next pass. 


Time can be a friend or foe.  There are many stories of talented, educated and skilled unemployed people out of work for two years or more.  If you’re one of them, it’s easy to be discouraged.  Sara Blakely wasn’t an overnight success, but she wasn’t afraid to try and never let obstacles stop her momentum.      


The longer you search for a job, the more failures you will have.  Consider it a gift.  You’re still out there trying.  You’re still in the game.  Examine every lost opportunity and find what you can learn from it.  Ask a trusted friend or mentor to give you some feedback on your interview style, speech, clothing and resume…everything!  Listen carefully with an open mind.  And most of all, keep “failing” until you find the job or career that is right for you.



Do you agree failure is a necessary part of becoming successful?  Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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