The Best Part of Your Worst Year

FailureThe kids may have just started a new school year, but in the corporate world it’s time to start working on 2018 strategies, budget, production plans, etc. That also means we’re right around the corner from performance appraisal time. Let’s face it, the only people who enjoy annual performance reviews are the ones who had a phenomenal year.

For the rest of us who have struggled and clawed our way through the year, performance appraisals are like pouring salt in the wound. Recounting all the things that didn’t go as planned can be painful and emotionally draining. Even when the circumstances are out of our control, we tend to internalize the feeling of failure. But there is an upside to a challenging year.

When we’re being dragged through our toughest year, it’s hard to look at the bright side. But if there’s one thing we must remember, it’s that we don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we are challenged.

If you’re still standing, then you’re a survivor. Every mistake, mis-calculation, and failure earned you experience. You learned from your mistakes and grew from them. As a result, (even if it doesn’t feel like it) you’re a better leader today than you were at the beginning of the year.

There’s a reason why no one says, “Tell me about a time when everything went according to plan” as a job interview question. It’s the challenges that make us who we are today. The adversity we overcome inoculates us from giving in to the next frustrating, stressful obstacle.

Setbacks and discomfort also force us to reflect. As you struggle through a tough year, it’s natural to wonder “Is this really worth it?” In the darkest days, you may have considered quitting the job or trying a whole different career. But if you choose to stay the course, you reaffirm your commitment to the organization, team, and mission.

A tough year teaches you who you are, what you’re made of, and that you’re stronger than you ever imagined. Take stock of the lessons you learned this year. Instead of being embarrassed by your failures, wear them like badges. They represent the wars you’ve been through and overcome. Those badges represent your resilience and the wisdom you’ve acquired. Those badges say “Life may be tough, but so am I.”