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Five Reasons Why Making Mistakes is a Good Thing for Your Emerging Career

Many employees new to the working world don’t realize adversity, challenges, mistakes or even failures can be good for their careers. It feels bad in the moment, but learning from missteps is one of the best ways to grow personally and professionally. While being cautious, careful and conservative can have its place, here are five reasons why blunders can boost your career.

Adversity makes you resilient

When a potential client hangs up on you, you may begin to sweat and feel like you let the team down. What you may not realize is this is something that everyone in your group has probably experienced and it has helped them learn how to shrug off these incidents and use the negativity to fuel a new approach. Rather than assuming people who hang up on you think that you're incompetent, understand that your call is likely not a manager's top priority and if you try again another time; the outcome may be different. If you’ve experienced this kind of challenge, it’s imperative to find value in your misfortunes. Dealt with correctly, difficulty has the potential to thicken your skin; when faced with similar situations as a more senior contributor, you will be well equipped to handle the roadblocks. 

Failure makes you innovative

When new, starry-eyed, coffee-fueled employees fail, the savvy ones realize repeating the same behavior will yield a similar result. To aim for success, change your approach, whether wording an email differently, trying a new software tool or remembering to shave before a big meeting. Missteps should force newer employees to think creatively about how they handle things in the future to get the results they want.

Challenges build your professional character

When you experience challenges at work, you often learn more about yourself than you would during times of accomplishment. Failing can reveal how you react, cope and move forward with a project both in positive and not-so-flattering ways, and in turn, show your true colors and true strengths as a professional. If your reaction to trials shows traits that you don’t like about yourself – for example, anger that comes across to clients or co-workers – change! If you handle setbacks and misfortune with integrity and resolve, keep up the good work.

Experiencing difficulty can make you a better storyteller

When you become a mentor or manager, it’s important to relate to your team when members are struggling. The adversity and setbacks you faced will help you connect with your team in a meaningful way. Handled well, you can look back on the mistakes you made in the early days of your career and use them as examples of your own professional growth and development. You can share how you printed an expensive flyer with typos, called your CEO by the wrong name or started laughing while leaving a voice message. Sharing these stories with others will make you seem more approachable, demonstrate how far you’ve come and give your colleagues a better informed perspective on their own challenges.

Hardship makes you empathetic

The concept of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes has been ingrained into all of us since we were children. Failing in your own work will make you more empathetic when you are a boss or mentor. Facing adversity now will help you understand what it’s like for a newcomer to join a team full of “experts” in their field only to botch his presentation during the staff meeting. You’ll be more sensitive to what it’s like to fall flat on your face and better able to guide your team members. Also, showing sympathy to a co-worker, or a client who’s blundered, can go a long way to developing a positive working relationship with them.

Failure, adversity, facing challenges – they can ruin your day or strengthen your career. It’s all in how you approach the situations and deal with the aftermaths. Review what happened, and learn from the experience. Not only will you be a stronger team contributor, these experiences will help turn you into a positive and motivating leader. In the words of author Terry Goodkind, “If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.”

Photo Credit: The Future Buzz