The Bright Side of Failure
by Barbara Quick
Talmudic wisdom has it that everything happens for a reason; we're just standing too close to the Earth to see the larger pattern.
Twenty years ago, Susan Page was in the final round for a high profile management position at University of California, Berkeley. She was devastated when she lost the job to another candidate. "I felt my life was over," she says.
Page threw in the towel and decided to start a consulting business. Moving from a 9-to-5 job to being her own boss "opened up the space" for her to dream new dreams and ultimately discover her true calling.
"If I had been given that job, I'd now be a stressed bureaucrat in a huge, unwieldy system, instead of an entrepreneur and writer with a free lifestyle and the gift of being able to spend my time expressing my own creativity," says Page, who now has several books to her name.
Most of us have some personal experience with a so-called blessing in disguise — the corporate downsizing that led us to finally pursue the work we've always dreamed of; the walk away from an unhappy relationship that led to true love; giving up on conceiving, and adopting what turns out to be exactly the child we hoped for.
In the New Economy, having failed at least once adds to one's corporate cachet. People who fail are considered to be risk-takers who don't mind walking perilously close to the edge. Our longer life spans allow us to experience serial careers, marriages and spiritual paths. And the truth is that nothing knocks us off one path and onto another like a good, hard, sometimes painful kick in the butt.
"I still shiver," says Page, "when I think what a close call that was; and I feel humbly grateful toward the person who got my job."