If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen gratitude lists before. They’re especially popular around Thanksgiving, when people are counting their blessings. Devotees of gratitude journaling say that the practice can improve psychological health, strengthen relationships, and build mental fortitude. Of course, it’s harder to do all this if you’re not feeling particularly #blessed.
Maybe this year hasn’t been the best of your career. Promotions didn’t materialize, raises evaporated, your favorite boss moved to another department. Or maybe the problem is something smaller: you’re feeling stuck, and have no idea what’s next.
Regardless, there are upsides to these tough times in your career. Don’t believe me? Consider:
Failure is the path to success.
Think of your heroes in business, art, and innovation. What do they all have in common? They all failed, and pretty spectacularly, before they reached success. It’s impossible to do great things without risk of failure. Shoot for the stars often enough, and you’ll fall short some of the time. Even better, failure builds the foundation for success.
Struggle teaches empathy.
Think about who you’d be, if your life were one unending string of successes. Sure, you might be pretty cheery, but you’d have no understanding of struggle — which means that you’d miss out on a major point of connection with everyone else around you. Without empathy, it’s impossible to be a good leader or a helpful teammate.
Delay teaches patience.
Today’s business landscape is all about speed, but sometimes, you can’t rush perfection. Being forced to wait — for a promotion, for an answer, for a clue about what to do next with your career — reminds you that patience is still a virtue. Think about salary negotiations: often, the person who names a number first, loses. Patient people can be quiet when it’s in their own best interests.
Working for bad bosses shows you what not to do.
Until you’ve worked for a micromanager, or an indecisive boss, or a supervisor who yells instead of communicating respectfully, it’s impossible to understand how bad those situations can be. If you’re stuck with a bad boss, pay attention. He or she is showing you what not to do, when you’re in charge.
Adversity reminds you to be on your own side.
Employers spend a lot of time and money trying to convince workers to be loyal, but the fact is, they’ll lay you off tomorrow if it’s in their own best interests. Take your present less-than-ideal circumstances as a reminder, and be on your own side first. You can be a helpful teammate, an excellent employee, and a good person, and still remember that your first responsibility is to yourself and your career.
Tell Us What You Think
What are you grateful for, in your career? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.