I was at an event recently where a representative from a government office was presenting about grants and loans her office offers to small businesses. She said she had noticed when women apply for the grant or loan and do not receive it on the first try, they won’t apply again. The women figured that door was closed and would not reopen. Men, however, would revise the application, correcting any mistakes, and apply again.
I was struck.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, the idea that if we don’t get something on the first try and thus it is not meant to be, is erroneous.
When I first started my own business, I would run a promotion and if it did not work right then, I would jump to something else entirely and see if that would work. I’ve learned I was basically just flailing about forcing my idea to work the first time.
But how to actually get things to work is to give yourself the opportunity to do multiple iterations of the same idea. Even if the first idea doesn’t work, you can learn and improve and do a slightly better job the next time…and the next…and the next…until you get the results you want. Instead of stopping short because of one setback (or many setbacks), take the long view on your career. These setbacks are just obstacles you will learn from, improve upon, so you can do better the next time.
A few years ago, Beth wanted to change career paths from outside sales to virtual assistance. However, she was afraid to make a drastic change as she was the bread-winner of the family. Beth decided to pick clients she could work for in the evenings and on weekends and keep her day-job.
For her first client, Beth worked as a virtual administrative assistant to the CEO of a luxury travel company. After several weeks, Beth realized she and her boss did not communicate in the same way. Both Beth and the CEO became frustrated. Beth resigned from that position. She felt defeated: her first client was a failure. Was virtual assistance really for her?
Beth did not give up, though. She found more clients who fit her schedule and work style. And she eventually quit her day-job and works as a virtual assistant full-time. What if Beth had stopped pursuing new clients after that first disaster? If Beth thought this one client was going to be indicative of the rest of her clients and thus stopped trying, she would have missed out on what she now loves doing.
Taking the long view on life and your career is freeing. It allows you to get started imperfectly. When you take the long view, you are saying you’ll have plenty of time to perfect your skill or idea. You will continue to learn from each new task or each new job. Eradicate the idea that you must be perfect the first go-round. Be persistent. This is just the first attempt.
Where, in your career life, have you taken the short view when you should have taken the long view? If you could go back, how would you do thing differently? In your current career goals, where do you need to take the long view; where do you need to be persistent? Share your thoughts in the comments below!