Never Give Up - The Unstoppable Series
My child has just finished his end of year exams and they haven’t gone well. This week has been awful. Full of teacher complaints, blame, tears, shouting and disappointment. To be honest I have felt completely overwhelmed on how to deal with this. I watch fearfully as I sit on the sidelines and see him put his head in the sand one day and then the next day, watch him cry because he feels worthless. The pain it makes me feel is unbearable. We have not resolved this issue and whatever path that is chosen will be a long, difficult path back.
So I stand here today to discuss failure. It is a topic that we must discuss and embrace because in the next 6-12 months, as a team, we will most definitely experience it. It is a painful topic for all involved, but we shouldn't shy away from discussing it, exploring it and understanding it. To start us on this journey, I want to share my personal story and message to my child and to others who find themselves in this situation.
There are moments in our life when we find ourselves at a crossroads. Everyone has them, you are not unique in this. The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our lives. You have reached one of those crossroads, who you thought you were and what you thought you could achieve are not aligned. That’s ok, don’t beat yourself up, these are important moments, lessons to learn from. Its time to think, reflect and focus on what you want and what action you need to do next,
Like everyone else, I have had plenty of failure in my life. In high school, I also failed my exams. I realised getting A/Bs was not going to be a walk in the park for me. It was a painful realisation that I was average and there were plenty of people better than me. It forced me to think about what I had to offer, It took me a while to figure this out, but I eventually settled on hard work, if I wasn’t going to be the smartest kid in the class, I was going to be the hardest working kid in the class. I would love to tell you that this realisation led me to great successes, but it didn’t. I worked hard, my year 12 results were C grades and I didn’t get into the course that I wanted, I got my third choice, but I went and continued to work hard.
I was lucky in college, even though it was my third choice of course, I loved it and I started to see reward for my efforts many years later. I was chosen first out of my year for work experience and landed a plum job with a wonderful company as a software developer. However life has a great way of bringing you back down to earth with a thud. I was 20 and in love and I eloped to Las Vegas with my boyfriend and got married. We lasted 8months. I left him. There is nothing like the crushing disapproval of your family and friends to make you feel small. Everyone was extremely vocal on how much of a disappointment I was. I felt suffocated and overwhelmed again, I decided I needed to leave Ireland (home). With $500 in my pocket, I left with some people to go to London to find work as a freelancer. We had a free place to stay for 12months. I arrived, ever hopeful that I would easily find a job, but I didn’t. It took me 13 weeks to find a job, I was down to my last $10, I had no family support, no money and no job. I had waves of anxiety and depression crashing in on top of me. I wasn’t coping very well and was coming to the conclusion that everyone was right, I was a failure and a disappointment.
However, after 13 weeks of job hunting, I did get a job, as a software developer in Debt Derivatives in a global bank. I spent the weekend learning the terminology pretending I understood everything and that I was great at maths(I wasn’t), however they were keen for someone to start immediately and I got a 3month contract. This was enough hope to turn the tide, It wasn’t an easy 3months, I almost drown in my lack of knowledge of Debt Derivatives, but I kept trying and turning up, even though I had tearful moments in the toilets because I thought I couldn’t do it. I eventually worked there for 3years and ended up as lead developer on the front office trading floor.
I share these stories today, to remind you that you are not alone. I know how you feel. Its painful. I know. Everyone has these moments of doubt and fear and helplessness. I have learnt in these moments to get back up again and keep trying even when I don’t want to. I also have experience that you can learn from, you can lean on. Everyone's journey is different, but the message I took away was that choosing hard work as my ‘skill’ when I felt I didn’t have any other skills was a blessing in disguise that I could apply to all areas of my life.
We all must deal with failure personally before we open up to others. So, today, the ball is in your court. However, I am here if you need me, but you need to decide how you will deal with this crossroads, I can assure you that it is possible to turn this challenging time into an opportunity, but only you can make that happen.
I will end on a Michael Jordan quote.