I hope you can answer that question with at least two or three good examples.
No? Nothing comes to mind?
Then you’re not trying hard enough.
It’s easy for people like me to hide away our failures. I can pick and choose what to write about, highlighting only the exciting experiences and financial freedom that I’ve enjoyed as a veterinarian. In this age of online personalities and digital branding, it’s tempting to present only the sanitized, hyper-charged images of our lives and careers.
But that’s not the truth for most of us. Not for me, at least. And these sterile, perpetually successful self-portrayals are not helpful for you.
You’re trying to figure out how to achieve a goal. It’s a dream you’ve been working on for years, doing your best to ignore the critics along the way. You want to do what when you grow up? Don’t you know how competitive that is? Do you want to live in poverty for the rest of your life?
So you need honest mentors. People who are willing to share their failures right alongside their successes.
I’ve had a few disappointments recently. Nothing huge, but I thought they would be worth being honest about.
I’ve been scheming for the last couple of months of how I might be able to participate in the upcoming AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference. I’m a total nerd in that I love this kind of leadership training and opportunities to network with colleagues.
I honestly thought my chances of getting an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago next month were pretty good.
But no, after trying about five different routes and applying for various scholarship programs that would have made it possible, I’ve come up against a wall.
We’re sorry to inform you that you have not been selected…
That kind of wall. Alas, my veterinary leadership skills will have to lie dormant for another year!
Ready for more?
I’ve failed in my writing goals. You’ve probably all seen that Author tab up on the top right menu of my website. Yes, it’s a slightly presumptuous title for someone with just one short story to his name.
But that short story was supposed to be a simple testing-of-the-waters, a prologue of sorts to an actual novel that would catapult me to instant success in the literary world. Right.
And I should be a lot closer to that goal than I am today. I committed a year ago to spend a dedicated hour every day writing this book. If I actually had the discipline to stick with it, I would easily be done with a first draft by now.
But where am I instead? I have a novel that is about a quarter of the way complete and a self-published short story that is selling about 20-30 copies every month. Not quite Herriot-Crichton-Clancy levels yet.
So I’ll keep plugging away. I love writing and I’m excited to share this story with the world.
Why then is it so hard for me to follow through and simply make it happen?
Nope, not a rhetorical question. I’ll tell you why it’s so hard. It’s hard because every worthwhile task is hard. It takes discipline to turn off the TV. I sometimes need a real kick in the butt in order to stop refreshing my Facebook feed. But that’s what it takes.
You want to be a marine mammal veterinarian? Or a virus-hunting veterinary sleuth? Awesome! Now what concrete steps are you taking to make that happen? Are you going to commit to studying diligently for hours every day for the next ten years of your life? Can you accept all the rejections for scholarships and training programs that will inevitably come your way?
I’ve applied for so many more of these opportunities over the years than I’ve ever been accepted for. Scholarships, fellowships, grants, externships, internships, and conferences. You name it, and I’ve been rejected from it.
But here’s the important thing to realize: it’s only because of all those hours I’ve invested in the rejections that occasionally a good news letter comes through too. And that’s what you have to hold out for. Persevere, my friends. It’s the only way.
Are you willing to fail?
How are you putting yourself out there, risking failure as you work towards your goals?