Every failure is a lesson.
When I set off on a long walk with Annie, sometimes I have a route in mind, I have an end destination I’m hoping to reach. Other days I’m bobbing along feeling positive or it feels endless and as though I’m going in circles. If I apply this to my personal career- it is very similar. I choose a mountain route, and didn’t quite expect it to take quite as long, its 5 years later and I’m still climbing that very same route. There’s no end in sight and I can’t help but wonder- will I ever achieve this? Perhaps it’s not for me.
I made a big decision to make a huge change in my life and upped and moved to Dubai. I thought it would be more permanent than a year and had big plans when moving to the middle east. I formed great friendships, and it was an awesome experience, but I returned to a wet cold UK winter a year later, with career uncertainty, financial worries and simple no ‘next’ step. I felt like a failure. It took 4 weeks to settle back home and motivation was at a low point, so a friend of mine suggested the military, in particular The Royal Air Force. I’d never considered joining the military and I was in the category of people who thinks of war and destruction straight away. My friend extended my knowledge and helped me open my mind to a totally different view, which created the curiosity and optimism I needed at the time.
I took another leap, January 2017, I walked into the Armed forces office. Unbeknown of the journey that laid ahead, I simply thought “this guy in uniform is very intimidating”! From my own physical endeavours and love of support, I decided I wanted to become a PTi (physical training instructor). Full of energy and excitement, at the thought of a new career, giving back to my country and wearing our national flag, I began to feel confident that this was the correct path for me. However, the feedback from the RAF sergeant during the interview was different “No, come back in 6 months when you can gain more qualifications for the role.” Almost immediately the feeling of failure started to sink back in. And it wasn’t just my own disappointment, I was worried that I was letting others down too. In hindsight we only feel this sense of pressure from ourselves, the people who surround us only offer support and happiness- rarely do they apply pressure.
So what did I do? I started working towards my goal. I was focused on the maths qualifications needed to become a PTi. It was a subject that had always been my weakness- maths. But as with any weakness exercising them will create strength. So, every single day for those 6 months I studied maths, starting at a basic level and building my knowledge. I could see the improvements and feel the confidence growing. However, the universe had decided I still had more growing to learn on the failure front! I had a string of disappointments one after the other, I continued to fail not one but two maths exams, and 3 pre-joining RAF exams. I had worked so hard. And I was doing everything asked of me. Those questions I mentioned at the start, “will I ever achieve this?” “is this not meant to be for me?” I pleased to say I have since graduated into the Royal Air Force. Not only did I graduate but I received the Recruits Recruit trophy, as our station commander said “this is the best award” as it is voted for by your fellow recruits. This was the proudest moment of my career so far, it had taken me 2½ years, with many more lows than highs, but I achieved my goal.
These experiences taught me not to give up when things get tough. It is as simple as changing a negative thought to a positive thought. In every disappointment or failure, we can learn something, to avoid repeating the same mistake. Then it is not a failure but a ‘bump’. This mindset gave me confidence, directed motivation and the courage to take on this challenge. Find the positives from your experiences. For myself the job interview with the RaF, highlighted some areas I could improve which were helpful for me to address. The sergeant didn’t say never, he said go better yourself and come back stronger. So that’s what I did. What did I learn from this lesson? Go be better.
Dwelling on a past failures isn’t healthy or productive, it negatively frames our attitudes, and clouds our judgement towards things we should be grateful for. We need to bring ourselves back to the present- work with what we have and keep that passion, determination and persistence you know you’re cable of using. Simple positive self-questioning can help put our doubts and thoughts to rest. For example, “Do I give up now after coming this far?” or “what can I do to be better?”
I’d like to leave you with this:
- There is no loosing, only a lesson learnt.
- There are no failures, only opportunities to grow.
- There are no problems, only solutions.