Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” For me, this paints a picture of what the road to success looks like along the way. As a teenage emigrant from Argentina, I learned early on to approach challenges with determination and define success on my own terms.
Despite years of studying English, at age 13 I was neither fluent nor prepared to acclimate socially when I arrived in the United States. While wallowing in self-pity, I attended English as a second language classes three times a week and socialized with other foreign students. For the first couple years I didn’t feel like i fit into the mainstream.
Once I embraced this country as my new home, I made a decision to move beyond my comfort zone: I joined the French club, played club soccer and volleyball, took advanced classes, and started to hang out with the brainy kids. My focus shifted from compensating for my differences to fulfilling my dreams. As a result, I developed new and lasting friendships, acquired new skills, increased my self-confidence, and was ultimately able to graduate at the top of my class.
I have come to appreciate how my mindset can make a difference in achieving my professional goals. I can make my own road and leverage my strengths, knowledge, and experiences. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Be open to change. You never know what is behind a new door if you aren’t open to the possibility.
Accept help. When I joined Cisco, I met regularly with a mentor who gave me honest and timely feedback on my management style and performance. I learned to put my ego aside and really listen so that i could make meaningful changes.
Be generous. Be optimistic about people’s intentions. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Zig-zag purposefully. Evaluate your personal portfolio of skills and consider pursuing a lateral or non-traditional move. Careers are not a straight line to the top. Zig-zags allowed me to acquire new skills that ultimately made me a stronger candidate for roles i later pursued.
Transcend from zero to hero. If we look beyond career dips, we can overcome adversity with hard work, perseverance, and passion. Our attitude and enthusiasm can make the difference between short-term failure and long-term success.