How to Regain Confidence after Failing at a Job


The dreaded moment when you just realize that you have been caught entirely dropping the ball at work or; worse yet, your job is over, can be devastating. In my studies, on personal growth, I’ve noticed that most entrepreneurs who crush it out there, are people who are met with a ton of job failure.

They have even coined the phrase, “Fail forward.” But while failure on the outside can seem impersonal and easy to manage by tough people like “them.” What happens when it is you?

It becomes deeply personal.

Recently, I wanted to learn about the fastest way to recover from a job failure set back, so I did some research to uncover the following information. Here is what I learned.

So how do you regain confidence after failing at a job? The best way to regain confidence after failing at a job is to harvest the good and throw out the bad. Forgive yourself for the failure. Accept yourself as you are and find ways to hone the skills needed to improve your performance for the current job. In the case of job loss as a result of the failure, it’s a good idea to shore up your weaknesses.

How do you harvest the good when the result may be really bad? What should you do when the impact of your job failure leaves either a lasting scar on your career or may cost you your job altogether? These are the situations that are going to require you to take action.

The life-changing skill-set that you must learn if you find yourself in this situation requires that you power into a new level of awareness. You might be saying, yeah, but what kind of changes do I need to make?

If I knew I would have already done it. I’ll get to that in a moment. First let’s look a little more in depth at what we should do to harvest the good of what has happened and dumping the rest.

Harvesting the good of a failure at a job

Maybe you have heard of the term: “the silver lining.” John Milton wrote this originally and the point of it is that at the edge of every dark cloud, you will notice that the edge lightens in appearance.

It is where the dark cloud meets the edge of a blue sky and naturally the powerful rays of the sun create a light edge.

This indicates that no matter how dark the cloud is, there is always going to be great weather to follow. It’s just a matter of time. Likewise, when you begin to think objectively about what happened at work, what do you see as a positive?

Now you might be saying that there is absolutely nothing good to harvest, and on the surface it may really appear that way. But I encourage you to dig deep. Even if the only good thing that came out of the job is understanding how ill equipped you are for it, it is something that will move the needle on your career.

Read this article to learn what to do if everyone is against you.

In these kinds of situations, I find it helpful to pretend the situation happened to someone else.

  • What would I think about them?
  • What would I think it important for “them” to learn from the experience?
  • What about the experience /failure would help them in their career moving forward?

Sometimes you need a little distance from the problem in order to see clearly what you can glean from the experience. Naturally, we take things to heart and make ourselves wrong about it.

While you can give yourself the space to wear the scarlet letter and blame yourself for a while, it’s not going to help you move forward. After an appropriate amount of time, get proactive about assigning meaning to the event.

Acceptance and Forgiveness

Accepting yourself is so important. The easiest job in the world is to moan on perpetually as the crabby critic, but how much more courage does it take to say you are going to love yourself through this experience.

I get that many of us didn’t exactly grow up in a household where love abounded and failure was accepted. Chances are, if you are here reading this, you are beating yourself up pretty harshly. Read how to revamp your relationship with yourself.

Here is where I recommend that you see the failure as something temporary rather than a permanent indicator of your personal self-worth and value.

When you were a child and fell down after taking your first steps, those around you didn’t give up on you. While it may have taken a bit for you to learn the skills to walk, you are able to walk upright now. Or consider learning a language.

In both examples, success came after failure. Be Ok with yourself. When I’m feeling down, I like to take myself to dinner and buy myself everything I could possibly want on the menu. It’s a way I tell myself that everything is going to be alright.

Develop the Skill-set to Succeed and the Self-Confidence to Win

As defined in other areas this blog, we have discovered that true self-confidence is a demonstration of optimism in your abilities.

While you may not feel particularly optimistic now, there is a time and place where you will be far enough out from this event that you won’t be as upset. This is where you get the “make it through” pass.

You made it through this experience and survived. Do you know what that means? You can make it through anything.

It’s time to begin to work on the skills that led to the failure. You can learn pretty much anything you want to. I have found that there is an online course for just about anything.

If you are looking to do better in your work, take a course. If you need to be better at public speaking, join a group like toastmasters. For one, you will find that you aren’t alone in your learning.

There are a ton of people just like you and me that need to improve in various areas.

Confidence will come as a result of honing your skills and practicing. Don’t be ashamed. Be free to seek out wise counsel and a platform for growth. Then you can prosper where you are planted and bloom where you are based.

What if the failure at the job isn’t the first time? Dealing with repeated job failures

I think the best way to unpack this is to look at a job where failure comes at a high price and the goal is to perform at the highest level every single time.

A fighter steps into a ring each time “believing” he or she can win. Consider fighters. They can be defeated, but they don’t give up on their dream based on one failure. There are always opportunities for improvement.

If you see that you are failing at the same thing over and over, do something about it. Go to work on your weaknesses.

Get a coach or a third party to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and above all else, listen to what they say.

I don’t recommend asking a family member because their view of you is going to be skewed based on too many factors. I like to ask people that barely know me what they think.

Here’s how I do it.

  1. I ask them for their time.
  2. I ask them if they could help me out with something.
  3. I tell them I want to ask them 4 or 5 questions and that the answers will really help me.
  4. Then, I follow up with the fact that I want them to answer just as honest as possible and that I won’t get mad no matter how they respond. (You really do have to mean this).
  5. Then I ask them what they think my strengths are. I encourage them to say anything.
  6. Then I ask them what my weaknesses are. This is the juice by the way. But for it to work, they have to know you won’t take it personally. This hard for people to share openly.
  7. If they seem to draw a blank or don’t want to say anything, I usually encourage them to tell me what they think “others” might say about me. The key ingredients are they can share what “others / might” say. (Of course, I know YOU would never say anything like that about me).
  8. Next, I ask, what people can rely on me for, and finally following the same model, I ask what I could never be relied on for.

You’d be surprised at the things people will tell you if you give them the opportunity to share without a repercussion. This can be invaluable for learning what particular character issues you can work on.

Of course, it is fine to work on all of these things provided you kept your job, but what about if you got let go as a result of your on the job mistake?

What if the job failure cost you your job?

If you have lost your job as a result of a mistake, you need to get clear on what actually caused the problem. Often employers will terminate an agreement with an employee as a result of multiple things.

It usually isn’t an isolated event. Often, one thing is cited as the “reason” you are let go, but there were other things that bugged them prior to the termination.

Identifying this is an important part of moving on and improving your ability to keep the next job. Keep in mind that the employer references have to be verification in nature. Your past employer isn’t allowed to put you down when they get a reference call.

They can answer the question however whether you would be considered for rehire. If the answer is no, that is code for: whatever you do, don’t hire this guy.

Whenever possible try to take ownership for your mistake and leave on good terms.

Related Questions:

What do you do if your confidence got knocked at work?

If your confidence gets knocked at work, it can leave you feeling miserable for days. There are different types of knocks.

If it was a self-confidence knock against who you are as a person and your personality, it’s important to realize that what people make fun of or knock socially is often something they struggle with internally a great deal.

What helps me is recognizing that the attack says more about them than it does me.

If your confidence gets knocked and it is related to performance, resolve to get more training, to improve and to create new habits around the area that needs improvement. Repetition is the mother of all skill. Figure out how you can go to work on your short-comings.

Surprisingly enough, often this is just what you need to become motivated to make lasting changes. Roll with it. Accept yourself and the circumstance. Remember a knock on your skill is a personal attack. It says nothing about your value.

How do you regain social confidence?

This question has “rejection” written all over it. If you feel like you have lost your confidence socially, see if you can track it back to a specific time and place where you felt like you didn’t measure up.

Most of us have felt at one time or another in our lives that we aren’t good enough. Understand that it is normal to feel this way. Give yourself some space to breathe. Remember that feelings are an indication of an issue, but not the issue itself. There are countless ways to begin to work on your self-esteem. Go to work on it starting today.

Read all you can. Listen to podcasts. Do it to the point where you feel like you could repeat what you have read verbatim. Let the sense of confidence sink in realize, we are dealing with the same things.

Fear is universal. Just because someone else fakes it doesn’t mean that you have to. Be OK with who you are and who you aren’t.

Realize that the road always ends the same for all of us. It is important to enjoy our time. Live and love how you see fit, but start by loving yourself and living free.

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Kat Clukey

I am so glad you are here, and have chosen to spend your time reading my blog. For the past 4 plus years, I have been on an intense mission to read books, go to seminars, and generally turn myself inside out to find out why some people seem to feel good in their own skin while I've struggled with self-worth and low self-esteem most of my adult life. I hope you find insights that help you on your journey!

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