“Remember that not getting what you want
is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
– Dalai Lama
I read the above quote and it reminded me of the many happenstance times in my life that I was convinced I knew what was best for me, my career, or my family only to feel the sting of disappointment when what I wanted did not come to fruition. Sometimes the disappointment stemmed from not being selected for a program, a job, or other path that forced me to take a journey down a different road. In hindsight, I have been blessed that many of the disappointments have become life defining, positive events.
In 1997, I thought all signs pointed to me working for a particular non-profit organization. I had just worked a retreat weekend with the director of the program and two days later discovered they were looking to hire an assistant director. My qualifications were a strong match, I was a former member of the organizations, and I had just “helped out” the director in a time of need – so, of course, he would remember me fondly and think I was the right fit for the position. Alas, I was not even in the running for the position as the organization announced their hire one day after the position vacancy announcement.
Although bit dejected, I still took a part-time role with the non-profit over a summer break when I was not teaching in the classroom. That was the summer I met my wife, Jenny, who happened to be employed with the non-profit. If I had been offered and accepted the position within the organization, I would have supervised Jenny and thus not been permitted to begin a dating relationship with her. Because I did not win the job I thought I would be a perfect fit for, I ended up with a soul mate instead.
There are many times in my life where I can look back and see choices/decisions/two roads diverged in a yellow wood – and I have been forced to journey on roads I would not have chosen for myself. In the end, I choose to focus on the positive consequences that resulted instead of “what might have been.”
Career seekers who can rebound from disappointments and focus on the positive outcomes from rejection tend to fare better in the long run. While difficult to do and requiring time for the ‘sting’ to lessen, letting go of the pain of rejection and moving forward with one’s efforts allows one to enjoy the positives instead of focusing on the ‘what-ifs?’ of life. In the words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.”