In this episode, Marc shares the chapter, “Career Mistakes: Failure is a Great Option,” from his upcoming audio book, Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life.
[3:11] Failure is a great option if you are not running a life-or-death mission. If you’re like most people, it’s inevitable and essential. You don’t learn unless you fail. If you are unwilling to fail, you are unlikely to venture into anything very impressive.
[4:41] Mistake 1: Marc was ‘seduced’ by a former manager to leave an easy job at IBM, and join her at IBM Global Services. Why was it one of the biggest mistakes of his career? He should have done his own research about the job. It wasn’t for him, and it led him to unhappiness. So he quit.
[7:42] Mistake 2: Taking his ‘dream job.’ Most of us take a dream job, without ever investigating what it actually entails. Marc went to teach Math in an inner-city high school. He had a lot of experience writing curriculum to teach engineers. He was not prepared to teach kids whose problems reached far beyond his ability to help them.
[10:59] Mistake 3: ‘I can make this work!’ Marc took a job that was not optimal, working in fundraising for a non-profit that was not aligned with his goals, just before a major downturn in the economy. He lasted a year, but he could not make it work.
[12:57] Failure’s upside: Marc is happy he took all three jobs. He learned a tremendous amount about consulting, public education, and non-profits. He also learned a lot about himself.
[13:19] Very few of us just hop from one career, into the perfect one, without some experimentation. Marc tells about Dave, a client who pivoted through several jobs before landing where he was happy.
[14:32] Failing, experimenting, and reinventing can be an adventure, but you need your infrastructure in place. Marc has come up with a plan to help you do this to prepare for your career pivot.
[14:47] Rules of Reinvention: Have a Plan B. Be prepared to pull the plug on the reinvention project. Have a clear timeline and metrics to determine your success.
[14:59] You might have three or five goals you’re working on, in terms of finances, skills learned, or happiness. Give yourself short windows to achieve these and evaluate them.
[15:22] Make sure the work you’re doing is something from which you could pivot into something else. Don’t fall away from your skillset without building anything you could use in your next job if this one doesn’t work out.
[15:36] Keep your network fresh even as you’re working in a new job or industry.
[15:41] Marc reviews when he had a Plan B (at IBM), and when he had no Plan B (at the high school). He planned his withdrawal from the nonprofit, which gave him time to find multiple Plan Bs.
[16:28] Think through your Plan B carefully. If a job becomes a trap, you need a way to escape it.
[17:06] Learn from your mistakes. The way you turn a mistake into something good is by learning from the experience. Marc learned a ton from his mistakes — what he needed and what he did not want to have.
[18:29] Failure is an option, but fail fast. Don’t be too risk averse, but be resilient.
[19:57] If you have a laptop, an Internet connection, and some hustle, you can start a business right now, with no money down. You won’t need a loan. Marc has written two books without a publisher and created a website that garners over 10,000 visitors a month without a major capital investment. He has created a highly-recognizable brand.
[21:22] In two of Marc’s three mistakes, he failed fast. That greatly eased his recovery. He was able to get back on track without being separated from his job skills. Don’t cling to a mistake just because it took you so long to make it.
[21:54] If you’re not failing, you’re not growing, but you have to be doing both. Have a plan, have a way to gauge whether it’s working, and jump ship when it isn’t. If you planned it right, another ship will come along, soon enough.
[22:13] Action Steps: Reflect on a career failure. Write down how you recovered. Reflect on what you could have done differently. Did you take risks, and if you did not, do you have regrets about that?
Mentioned in This Episode:
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