We're all familiar with the "fail fast, fail often" mantra. With it comes a new approach to dealing with setbacks and challenges. It's no longer verboten to miss out on a job opportunity, fail to land a contract or throw everything you have into an idea that doesn't work out. But that doesn't mean that failure is any easier to handle when you're the one succumbing to it.
Here's how to handle a situation that didn't quite go as planned.
Turn it into a Win
Treat yourself to a shift in perspective. So you didn't get the job or land that funding. Here's your chance to ask yourself why. Were you underprepared? Too expensive? Courting the wrong person? Dissect what went wrong so that you can bring the goods to your next meeting.
It's probably hard to admit right now, but missing out on that job, account or opportunity might be a good thing. Whatever happened, there was a reason you weren't a good fit. And that "pass" is going to put you one step closer to the prospect or opportunity that does work out.
Play it Cool
Chances are that there was nothing personal about why you missed out on that dream opportunity. But how you respond to failure or rejection can make it personal. No matter how things turned out, play it cool, keep it professional and thank the other person for their time. The note you part on is what the other person will remember you for, so make it a good one.
Remember, it's highly possible that you'll cross paths again at some point, so always take the high road! Once those bridges are burned, there's no repairing them.
Ask for Feedback
Take a moment to ask for feedback on why you were passed over. It never hurts to ask - in fact, asking shows that you're actively interested in improving. Seek out clear, actionable feedback that you can use to guide your future efforts. But be strategic in how you ask. Asking about your weaknesses or any advice that the other party would give is better than flat-out asking why you weren't picked.
Additionally, be sure to get your tone right. You don't want it to sound as though you're arguing with their decision - ensure that your questions are coming from a place of self-reflection, not an accusation.
Know it's Not Forever
A "no" isn't always forever - it might just be a no for now. If you can deliver value in your interview or meeting, you'll stand out in the other person's mind. Show interest in what they do and make it clear that you understand the context and needs of their business. Provide clear examples of relevant successes - and the benefits you can or have delivered. Demonstrate that you're an expert with an abiding interest in your field, and you'll prove your worth as a candidate.
If you can prove that you have what it takes, it may just take a shift in circumstances - and some time - for them to circle back to you. Strive to leave a positive, lasting impression.
Put Yourself Back Out There
One failure doesn't mean that you are a failure. Persistence and perseverance will take you far. Most employees apply for multiple jobs. Most startups approach multiple VCs. And most creatives send their work out to multiple firms or companies before they get that "yes". Don't let one "no" scare you off.
The more you put yourself out there, the better your chances, so get back on that bike!
Work on Something New
If you're a maker, an innovator or a creative, a "no" (or several "no"s) can dampen your enthusiasm for your project. Remember that one failure isn't a reflection on your worth as a creator: it's just one opinion about one project. If you're feeling flat, try shifting your efforts to another idea.
Just be careful not to fall into the trap of flitting between projects - try to finish what you start!
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