Driven by Failure

Scrabble pieces spelling out "fail your way to success".
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

I have been away from my newly created blog because of life stuff happening tbh. I had a slew of job interviews last week and it was quite the whirlwind.

I have been at my current job position for the last seven years. My company has not given me any bonuses, raises, or opportunities for advancement within the company or on the contract that I am working. It’s not like I just sat on my ass collecting a paycheck either. I earned my master’s degree and at least ten industry certifications since being hired.

I am not trying to be ungrateful, it’s just when you work so hard at the actual job, then go home and forgo relaxing with your girlfriend, and now my wife, to study and continually try to better yourself. It gets frustrating.

I am grateful to have had a job and been gainfully employed. Moving away from Hawaii to the East Coast was a huge change for me and a culture shock for sure. It is great that my company hired me at a great rate. When adjusting to a new location and a new pace of day-to-day life, far away from everything you ever knew, being able to adequately pay your bills is a really good thing to not worry about.

Even moving to Japan, my company took care of me and kept paying me the same rate. They even threw in some cost of living allowance to help my wife and me adjust to the new country. But still no advancement opportunities.

Well, about six months ago my wife and I landed back in the states. Not just any state, but my home state of Hawaii. Now would be the time for me to make a change for sure. There were many job leads, many people who swore I would have no problem finding something great to match my now fairly stacked resume. I even had some friends try to create jobs for me within their organizations.

Of course, all of these potential jobs were very exciting. In both the work I would be doing and with the pay and/or benefits the job offered. Unfortunately for many various reasons, including this COVID-19 pandemic, every possible opportunity was shut down or disappeared seemingly as quickly as they revealed themselves. The position that I was currently at “temporarily” was slowly becoming familiar, and I was beginning to dig my heels in for a potential long haul doing this same job for longer than I had hoped.

Then two weeks ago my LinkedIn started blowing up with two big leads. I won’t bore you with the details, but one job was fairly familiar with some small changes. Different organization, a different pace of work, different mission, things like that. Different. The other offer sounded too good to be true, and in hindsight, maybe it was. It was remote, with occasional travel to Tokyo, Melbourne, and Singapore. There was no shift work involved, and no on-call duty. It was a “nine-to-five” gig based on my current time zone. It was in support of a company with an awesome mission, and the pay was way above what I expected to be offered.

So you can guess what job I wanted. The first job pulled through quickly. I also happened to have a really good friend who previously worked for this company, so I’m sure he had something to do with the quick turnaround with a full offer the day after the main interview happened. I was stoked. But the second job opportunity just oozed with possibility. Being able to work remotely and get paid such a tempting salary made this the easy choice. It would have been if I had gotten an offer anyway.

I interviewed for this second company with the recruiters, then with the hiring manager. They both seemed certain that I would be a great fit. This was until I had the interview with one of the senior engineers. After he drilled me with some technical questions that I was either unprepared for or just didn’t know, he informed me more about the position I was interviewing for. This was also for a senior-level engineering position. He described some of the other team members' levels of experience and certification credentials. They all either had fifteen to twenty years of experience or had certifications two entire tiers above what I had earned.

It became clear to me that I wasn’t getting this job. I was batting out of my league, and the engineer interviewing me knew this also. I was bummed, and still am, but it is what it is. I still had a sweet offer from the first company and I could not sit on this offer forever, hoping for something that may never come. I have watched enough Shark Tank to know that great offers, when left unattended, can change or go away for good. I wasn’t going to make that mistake here, so I accepted and later gave my “two-weeks” notice to my long-time employer. The new job I am going to is a great opportunity. There is an increase in pay which is awesome, especially in these pandemic times where so many people are struggling. I feel very fortunate, but can’t help but continue to reflect on the job offer that never came from the second potential employer.

It is interesting how the successes in life feel super great and are validating. Most change your life for the better, if only for a short while. What is more interesting to me personally, is the failures. It is when I have failed in life that I have been pushed by these failures, never to suffer this failure again.

Like when you break a bone in your body, once it heals back, the area around the break is thicker and reinforced. I have tended to treat my failures in life, primarily in academia and in my career the same way. My first job interview in my current profession was a “no”. And this embarrassment and shame from that interview, ten years ago now, drove me to do better. To learn more, to be more prepared.

One of the first certifications I tried to earn, my Dad gave me a ride to the exam site to save money on parking. I came back downstairs and had to tell him that I failed the exam. I got to hear it from him the whole ride home how if I didn’t care I should quit wasting my time and money. Just quick f*cking around and just keep making minimum wage and play video games, no need to study. I went on to earn just short of twenty industry certifications and my master’s degree.

This interview will be no different. There is already a bloody pin in this recent experience of not being better on the interview that could have given me possibly a dream job. One that paid me handsomely and allowed me to do almost 100% of it from the comfort of my own home. Oh, and when I would have to travel, all the locations are awesome and everything would be paid for by the company.

I have been dusting off my books, lab equipment, and software. I am studying again, without any real reason to need to. I had just accepted a job that did not hire me with any contingencies. But here I am studying. Still reeling from my shortfall. I will not let an opportunity like this pass me by again.

I will be ready.

The biggest gift that failure can give, is that of drive and perseverance to make preparations to never experience the pains of the same failure again. I am hunkering down in my bunker of knowledge, fortifying myself and my mind to be more prepared for my next opportunity to prove myself and my potential.

So to anyone out there suffering, experiencing failure in some sort of way. Let the failure run over you. Feel it seeping into every pore on your skin. Feel its eyes dig into the back of your neck as you sit there, wondering where you went wrong, replaying the scenario over and over in your mind. Remember how this feels, but do not despair.

Do not give up or give in. Stand back up and continue fighting, for it is determination and perseverance that will pave your way to success above all else. Anyway, it's about time for me to get back on that grind.

Go forth and Refine.