According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, failure can mean the following:
- Lack of success
- A falling Short
- One that has failed (thanks Webster)
Failure sucks. When you decide to set a goal, be it obtaining a certification, preparing for a technical interview for a company you’ve dreamed of working, you research what content is needed to pass, you study said content, and you sit for the exam when we are ready with the intent on passing. But then you get to the last screen and it says “fail” or you get the “we regret to inform you…”. I know when I fail an exam it’s a mix of emotions: Disbelief, confusion (because you studied your butt of for that exam and passed those practice exams), anger, disappointment, and discouragement. I have failed many certification exams in my career (my most recent being the CCNA Security Exam). When I started sitting for exams and the result was a fail, the negative thoughts would get so bad, I would question my ability to be in the tech field. The thought of giving up crept my mind, until I had to snap out of it.
Failure = Lessons Learned
When we learn to think of failure as a learning experience, this changes our mindset. Allow yourself to feel those negative emotions for a moment. You spent a lot of time preparing for that exam and did not receive the outcome you hoped for. If you’re mad, be mad. If you’re sad or in disbelief, be that; but only for a short period of time. Once some time has passed, review the exam objectives that you fell short on. Maybe you need to do extra research on VPN functionality or LAN Switching Technologies. Sometimes you may need to use another book, a different video series, or utilize your Google-Fu. Whatever you do, do not let that negative energy take over. Learn from what didn’t go right and make a plan to learn from it. How you handle the failure is what matters. You simply can not be afraid to fail. Failure is part of the learning process. If you treat it as such, you will be successful in the recovery from failing.
Failure Does Not Define Who You Are as a Person
An exam result, a grade in your class, or the result of your technical interview does not define who you are as a person. This just means you have more to learn. Will this result matter a year from now? 5-10 years from now? Do not let failure deter you from your goals.
You are intelligent. You are capable. Failure is part of the process. Learn from it, fail forward, and keep going.