“0h Crito, if it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be. Anytus and Melitus may kill me indeed, but hurt me they cannot.” –Plato’s Crito
For my job, I am required to pass an evaluation. I recently took one of these evaluations, and although I passed, I did not leave the lasting good impression that I had hoped to leave with my new boss. As the new guy, this was my chance to break through, to develop a trust from my employer that would be one I could build upon. That did not happen. Instead, as one thing led to another I ended up performing badly enough during one portion that I now am “in a hole” that I must dig out of. It left my evaluator, who just happens to be my boss, with a lack of confidence in my ability. For all intents and purposes, I failed.
So what can I, as a Heroic Stoic make of this? Here are some thoughts.
“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
Much of what happened on this particular evaluation was out my control: the situation I was put in, my own fatigue, my lack of situational awareness of how difficult the particular task was, my inexperience on the job, my own talent at performing the job, not to mention the boss’s opinion on the seriousness of the errors I committed. These are not excuses, this is a simple acknowledgment that there are certain things that I cannot control, when I face a failure. These are things that test me, that make me better. They improve my skills. Clearly, if I have failed then I have reached some kind of limit…at least I know where it is now, and what to do next.
2. Picking Myself Up
“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”–Dale Carnegie
This failure has afforded me the opportunity to reevaluate my own attitude and what I can do better in the future. For example, in this case I have committed to be better at the tasks I did not do well. I will commit to never make those errors again. They may be my weaknesses, so I am set on bringing them up to par. Often, failures can close doors and force you to go in a different direction…it may lead to a change in focus in your life. A failure may make you realize that you are not cut out for a particular task, and a new door will open. It this is you, be on the lookout for it.
3. Worry (That is, Worrying About Fate)
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” –Marcus Aurelius
I could worry about how this will affect my future. How will this affect my work environment? Will the boss be looking for my mistakes now? Will it affect any raises I get? What happens if I make another mistake? Could I lose my job? All these things are possible, but they will largely be controlled by fate. There is no reason to worry about these things. What to be concerned about are the things I can control. I need to do the best job I possibly can. Will I make mistakes? Sure. Will I have to prove myself? Most definitely. All I can do is the best I can do…it is the only way to be virtuous.
“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.” George Burns
It is better to have tried at something I am committed to, than to not have tried at all. Along the way, there will be failures for things that are worth it. Failures don’t mean the end, and failures while doing something you love are worth it. It is my pride in my craft that will motivate me to be better…to be excellent!
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” –Michael Jordan