3 answers

What was your biggest failure, and how did you overcome it?

N power student, interested in Cyber security. #technology

3 answers

Chethan’s Answer

Updated Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Hi Lizsandra, thanks for the question.

My story goes like this " From some body who topped his college in his 12th, to have almost dropped out of engineering, to have visited 21 countries till date, i am leading a fairly happy & successful life"

So in my story my biggest failure was in my engineering, where in i lost focus & did not know how to come back to terms. I completed three years of engineering & had many backlogs by the end of my third year which did not let me go into my final year.

During this failure period I had a girlfriend, was working in a call center & was actively following stock markets. All of these were taking up 24 hours of my time. Due to global recession stock markets fell big time & i lost all money. I broke up with my girlfriend & quit my call center job due to depression. This was terrible time in my life as i felt many a times that there is nothing more i could do. I was thinking of giving up & try my luck in my next life :)

My father helped me come back to terms. He consoled me as my good friend & advised me to start meditating to gain focus & complete my engineering. This was not easy, but i managed to come to terms & come out of this dark phase.

After this, i have realized the importance of staying focussed & not waste your time on things that are not relevant for you. I also feel nothing is the end of the world, as earth is not a straight line but a circle.



Shyam’s Answer

Updated Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Hi Lizsandra,

That's a great question and let me tell you why before I answer it. Firstly, the intent behind the question (if I may take the liberty to assume) indicates to me that you are looking for solutions or best practises in dealing with adversity in general. Secondly this is a question that many people who are undergoing a major change or transition in their life have. The challenge in trying to answer this question lies in ensuring that the context of the questioner's intent isn't lost in process. So keeping that in mind let me share my example of my biggest failure and how I overcame it (or at least striving to keep it in check).

After having served 10 years in a technical domain, and having managed to cement myself as a subject matter expert in my domain, I decided to pursue my goals in the field of management. At the time, it seems like a natural career progression to me. However I did not realize at the time that the technical intellectual capital I was bringing in to the organization would be completely lost in my transition to management as my new role requires a complete different set of skills aimed at enabling high level of team performance and achieving targets together. Having been a individual contributor focusing greatly on technology and emerging technology trends, I found the domain shift overwhelming. Additionally, my original approach on self development as an individual has limited applicability in my new role which was all about teamwork and achieving Organizational Metrics / KPIs / goals together. So, I started off with doing what every rookie in a new field does : Shut myself off from the rest of the system and try to make sense of the overwhelming deluge of processes and management heuristics around me. Not surprisingly, that failed miserably, and locked within my own fears, I felt completely helpless and disillusioned. Luckily, my mentors and superiors at my organization sensed a certain discomfort and approached me about it. Initially I was reluctant to open up and share my insecurities with them. However after reading a lot of self help guides and dabbling a bit with philosophy, I decided the best way was to be upfront and candid about it. After several lengthy, discussions with my superiors and mentors, I was able to get a glimpse of hope. However the one drastic change that I can attribute my success and my overcoming of the challenge, was Self-Confidence. The moment I realized that I can certainly achieve my goals in the new role and once I opened my eyes to take notice of the help around me that I can leverage, things started changing dramatically.

I changed ideologically from "How can I do this?" or "How can I achieve this goal?" to "Who can help me in achieving this goal?" or "Who are the right people to guide me towards this goal?". This basically ensured that I was reaching out to folks around me and building bridges and relationships that go a long way. Secondly I was also recognizing the expertise of my peers which helped me bond better.

To cut a long story short, the following attribute shift helped me overcome my biggest challenge (Transition to a new role after 10 years in a technical field).

  1. Staying positive and self-confident. It is easier said than done. Take some time off everyday to remind yourself that you are unique just like everyone else and have something special to offer. Sometime it may be difficult to build the confidence (especially in the face of adversity) but with practise you'll get really good at recognizing your strengths and working around them.
  2. Have well understood, realistic goals and chart a roadmap to achieve them. Make small targets to track progress and stay honest in your review of the progress.
  3. Not all action items in the roadmap are yours. It is perfectly alright to leverage help from peers.
  4. Recognizing, expertise of your peers : It is ok to not have all the answers but it's more important to know where or from whom you are most likely to get those answers from.
  5. Remembering that you are not alone and help is always available to those who actively seek it.
  6. Finally, your approach is unique to you and so don't be afraid to challenge existing ideas and experiment.

Shyam recommends the following next steps:

  • Staying positive and self-confident. It is easier said than done. Take some time off everyday to remind yourself that you are unique just like everyone else and have something special to offer. Sometime it may be difficult to build the confidence (especially in the face of adversity) but with practise you'll get really good at recognizing your strengths and working around them.
  • Have well understood, realistic goals and chart a roadmap to achieve them. Make small targets to track progress and stay honest in your review of the progress.
  • Not all action items in the roadmap are yours. It is perfectly alright to leverage help from peers.
  • Recognizing, expertise of your peers : It is ok to not have all the answers but it's more important to know where or from whom you are most likely to get those answers from.
  • Remembering that you are not alone and help is always available to those who actively seek it. Finally, your approach is unique to you and so don't be afraid to challenge existing ideas and experiment.

Raja’s Answer

Updated Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

I have been preparing for CCIE since few years and attempted 3 of them. I never loose hope and completed it in my 3rd attempt.