Early Failure Can Impact a Career

A concern arose on one of the various question sites I frequent – a manager was hired on contract to supervise a project, which was cancelled a short time later. As a result, the contract was terminated. Normally, this would be percieved as a standard part of business as a consultant – except for this particular manager. It was his first job.

The manager was concerned that this would appear as a stain on a clean resume, perhaps having a negative impact on his ability to market himself effectively. However, perhaps this early failure could turn out to be of benefit, when properly presented.

Everything in life is about the spin, or the angle. In any situation, the question is not whether there is bias, but rather, how that bias is being presented, and to what ends. Sometimes, the creation of the bias itself is subject to analysis, showing the thought processes of the presenter.

The manager, seeking to put a positive spin on the situation, can choose to reflect on what was accomplished prior to the conclusion of the contract. Additionally, he can look at the reasons for the project being cancelled, and learn how to detect such issues early in the project lifecycle. He can apply those lessons learned to future projects, but, perhaps more relevant, he can explain all this as a lesson learned in the school of hard knocks.

When presented with a situation in which the outcome was not the hoped for success, that’s not the same as a failure, unless you choose to present it that way. Every situation has bias, and you can choose to bias the situation to be described as an alternative successful outcome, rather than a failure.