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On Missed Opportunities and the Power of Staying Positive in Your Career

On Missed Opportunities and the Power of Staying Positive in Your Career

It all seemed so unfair to Sarah. She had worked so hard on that particular project, for the credit to be given to her colleague, Jordan. She had only been in this role for a year, but she had tried as much as she could to do her best. Being proactive about opportunities, bravely challenging her introvert nature and striving to speak up. Yet it seemed no matter what she did, she wasn’t given full credit. That there was always something that’d be criticized… To top it all off, her opportunity to lead another project had just been taken away from her.

Sarah’s career hurdles are not uncommon. The same obstacles are faced by countless women (and men) in Big Corporate. Missed opportunities, foregone chances, and this despite all the hard work and perseverance. It’s no wonder so many women (and men) are disillusioned by the corporate world, and have lost their passion and engagement on the job.

How do you deal with missed opportunities and apparent unfairness in your career, and still manage to keep positive?

Disappointments in your career are inevitable. However, if you’re intent on building a successful, engaged work path, facing them in a smart way is a necessity. That’s what I realized a bit later in my career, after leaving many an unfulfilling job because of said disappointments.

[Related: 10 Insider Lessons for Surviving the Corporate World]

But let me finish Sara’s story first.

After she lost the project she had been scheduled to lead for another one of her colleagues, she found herself filling in for ad hoc assignments here and there. One of these ad hoc assignments involved helping the CFO with the quarter’s financial deliverables, which she did with her usual excellence. While everyone else in her team was busy with a project of their own, she went on to assist the CFO with this particular task. Long story short, she delivered a top notch product, was noticed by high-level executives, and was offered a double promotion in less than six months.

All of this from a missed opportunity.

How many of us fail to leverage our missed opportunities by positively keeping on keepin’ on? How many of us, too impatient for the next thing, run from job to job and department to department, only to be faced with the same hurdles and obstacles?

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you must move. Like when getting out of bed in the morning becomes physically painful. Or when it’s clear you’ll get a better chance somewhere else. Yet, there are also times when remaining positive and sticking it out, in spite of the difficulties, pays off quite handsomely.

In our society of instant gratification and automatic money withdrawals, we’ve become so accustomed to getting what we want when we want it, that we no longer know to let go of the good for the better. So we run from place to place, only to end up jaded and bitter.

In life as in your career, there are no other outcomes than the ones we decide for ourselves. We can either believe the obstacles are bigger than us, or we are bigger than them. We can either look at the muddy middle of our careers, questioning the end. Or we can keep showing up, hands open, ready to grab any opportunity that comes our way.

Because sometimes, if’s when you think you’ve missed your opportunity, that you’ve actually made room for a better one.

As for Sarah, she’s found the success she’s been looking for her entire career, albeit in a very different place than what she thought. And as for me, I’ve learnt a lot of interesting things happen when you stick it out, keep your hands open, and settle for better outcomes, even the ones you can’t quite see coming.

[Related: Achieving Growth in Unexpected Places]

This article previously appeared on The Corporate Sister.


Solange Lopes is an author, CPA and writer/blogger. She blogs about career and lifestyle for professional women in her blog The Corporate Sister. She’s passionate about writing and women’s issues.

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