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Friday, October 11, 2013 - 5:14am

WORKING: Bouncing Back From Failure

Updated: 1 year ago.
It hasn’t been a good week for professional sports teams hailing from Atlanta. In the Braves’ and Falcons’ failures, however, are lessons for rebounding at work. These two teams were once thought of as rising stars – just like workers who enjoy success begin getting more responsibility. Brandon Smith explains how to rebound from a big work failure. (Photo Courtesy of Michael Lokner via Flickr.)

It hasn’t been a good week for professional sports teams hailing from Atlanta.

The Braves lost Monday in the opening round of the Major League Baseball playoffs to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The same night, the Falcons fell to the New York Jets after a last-second field goal.

In their failures, however, are lessons for rebounding at work. These two teams were once thought of as rising stars – just like workers who enjoy success begin getting more responsibility.

“You can usually reclaim your [rock-star status] within 12 months,” said Brandon Smith, a career coach and workplace consultant who also teaches business students about leadership and communication. “But it’s got to be [with] consistent work, consistent levels success.”

Smith said that may mean tackling less-difficult projects at first to put together a string of successes.

“You can’t have a couple quick wins and a couple rocky losses,” he said. “You’ve got to have a consistent season, so to speak, to go back to [the] sports analogy.

“So it would be better to bite off smaller things you know you can win and just keep winning and winning and winning.”

Smith said the other problem with a big failure at work is the difficulty in staying positive and motivated afterward. He said anger can help with that.

“Because anger is an energy emotion. We’re trying to get...charged back. We’re looking for a spark here,” Smith said. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. That’s more like a depression. That’s a low-energy emotion. You’re not going to create a spark feeling sorry for yourself.”

He said it can be helpful to get mad about your performance and mad that other people think you performed poorly.

“Get mad at that: ‘I’m proving them wrong.’ Pick somebody you’re going to prove wrong,” he said.

Brandon Smith teaches about leadership, communication, and workplace culture at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. More of his advice is on his blog and at theworkplacetherapist.com. While you’re there, ask him your workplace or career question. We might answer you in a future radio segment.

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