I’ve come in second place (or worse) on more job interviews than I’ve won during my career. Some losses served as severe hits to my confidence, forcing me to question many things about my preparation, experience and how I came across in the interview.
It was humbling, and I likely wore my feelings on my sleeve for all to see. Yet, I needed to go on, perform in my current role, bring value to my organization and lead my team.
We all deal with some level of disappointment or rejection in most, if not all, aspects of our lives. No one wins all the time in everything. I’ve found that it’s not disappointment or rejection, but rather, how we choose to respond and move forward that defines us.
Many years ago, I decided to interview with another firm because I wasn’t feeling appreciated by my new boss; I had been passed on a promotion and she put some comments in my performance review that I took exception with. The interview with the other company went well. They wanted me to proceed to the final interview and laid out a compelling potential career path. I was excited. When I discussed the opportunity with my wife, she asked, “Is your desire to make this change based on the opportunity or is it really about your relationship with your boss?” She went on to ask, “If it’s about your relationship, are you going to look for a new job every time you have a disagreement or issue with your boss?”
Her questions cut right to the heart of the matter, and still stand as some of the best coaching questions I’ve been asked. They challenged me to accept that I would always be the constant in an equation of the relationships between any of my managers and me.
How would I respond to these questions? Did I want to run away to a new employer, not addressing my side of the equation? After some serious contemplation, I realized running wouldn’t help me as much as staying and working through the issues.
This wasn’t about survival, where fight or flight comes into play. The company was doing well, and my boss was a good person. She merely gave me feedback that I didn’t want to hear, but most likely needed. The choice I had to make was how I wanted to grow and learn to work with my manager – or any future boss – and succeed.
What I discovered in the process proved valuable throughout my career:
- Choice – The choice of how you respond to feedback is yours alone to make. Whether you choose to stay in your current organization, address the feedback and pursue advancement or whether you choose to leave and accept new opportunities, you must own your decision.
- Commitment – Once you make your choice, commitment to the outcome has the greatest effect on the result. There will be bumps along the way that will test your resolve. Stay focused.
- Resilience – Adapting to and recovering from setbacks or adversity is a valuable skill. Learn and develop this trait. Resilient people effectively counter negativity.
- Change – Change gets noticed. Positive change is an action that tends to elicit favorable reactions to an individual. Conversely, inaction can elicit indifference and negative change can lead to avoidance.
- Relationships – Interactions and relationships matter. How you work with and through others is vital. Getting more people involved and engaged garners better results. Learning to work in a way that enhances relationships serves you and your organization well.
I was fortunate that my wife’s coaching questions challenged me to take a path to learning and progress. The choice I made to stay in my organization and grow required a commitment on my part to receive feedback and demonstrate that I was willing to listen, learn and improve. My action enabled others to see positive change in my behavior that also helped build better relationships. The result was that within 12 months of the performance review that I almost left the company over, my manager recommended me for a promotional opportunity that I accepted.
Some tough coaching questions led me to a process of growth. Who is challenging you in such a way that you achieve what’s next for you?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching and can be reached at [email protected]