End of Semester Reflections: Sometimes You Have to Fail To Succeed

As I end another semester with gratitude and a full heart, I can’t help but think about the fact that I almost left my teaching career to work full time as a communication consultant for a corporate company. The President of this company promised me a great career and future after meeting me only once. I was extremely flattered by his excitement, in fact I was so flattered that I overlooked the fact that he didn't know much about me beyond the fact that I was an adjunct who taught mostly public speaking classes. Looking back, it is clear that I was seen as the potential diversity hire that they were desperate for.

At the time, I was a young 26 year old who was hungry for success, and was excited for the $$$ that I would make working for a consulting firm. Even though I loved teaching, I was ready to walk away from the adjunct life I was living and excited to travel the world training employees on public speaking and leadership skills. I worked two days a week for about two months for this organization, learning the ropes and in many ways "interning."

When the CEO abruptly told me I was no longer wanted at the consulting firm, I was dumbfounded at the sudden change of heart. On my last day, he called me into his office and coldly told me that I did not have the skills or talent in public speaking that I needed to make it in the consulting world and that he would never recommend me to any future employers. His words stung and I was heart broken and confused. I knew deep down that I was indeed skilled, talented, and passionate but his words caused me to doubt myself and my abilities. I felt like a failure and it was all because of one person's uninformed opinion of me.

I didn’t realize it then but that “failure” was supposed to happen, that “failure” was the key to the success I have today. I went back to teaching as an adjunct and worked hard to land a tenured professorship. If I didn't have that painful experience with that public speaking consulting firm, I would not have the career I cherish today. I LOVE teaching and I can’t imagine my life without the rewarding and meaningful teaching career I have today. I also love working as a consultant with organizations to help create organizational change. Thankfully, I have been able to figure out how to balance both of my passions, and over the years have proved that ignorant President who told me I had no skill in public speaking or future in communication consulting wrong.

This experience is a reminder that sometimes you need to experience failure to experience success. and to believe in yourself.. because if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. Don’t let your failures stop you from achieving your dreams and goals, instead learn from these failures and allow them to drive your success.

I’m entirely thankful for another blessed semester and the career that I almost didn’t have and extremely grateful for the amazing students that I learned so much from these past few months. I can't wait to see the big things they accomplish in their lives.


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