Failure is always an option

Thursday, September 22, 2016
formerly on Fab.com
This poster used to hang in my design studio. It was a reminder that screwing up is sometimes the only way to learn something new. While it took me a long time to accept failure as a valid outcome, today recognizing missteps guides many of my decisions.

As regular readers know, I spent the early part of this year grieving the end of à deux, my luxury wedding stationery line, and intently looking for something new. I'm wasn't sure what direction to head but knew that being open and listening well would help me pave the path.

Back in June, a recruiter randomly contacted me about a senior design role at a small, scrappy design and production agency. They had a team of 3 designers and were looking to restructure and evolve. Since I'd been looking for a small company where I could make a big impact, I was intrigued.


After the interview, three points stood out about the role. They needed:

  • A strong print designer who can prioritize, manage expectations and meet deadlines while leading a small team
  • Someone who has operations experience, a big personality and a diverse toolkit of skills outside of "just" design; 
  • A collaborative team player who who can work with sales and production, and is comfortable in front of clients to get the work done

Sounds just like me, right? I accepted an offer to be the agency's new Creative Director under a two-month consulting contract. That way we could assess each other and decide if this was a good fit before going all in; a mutual try-before-you-buy deal. I started in mid-July

Long story short, when it came time for my two-month evaluation, I decided not to continue there. I had made a mistake several mistakes about the company, the culture, the leadership and my capacity for office bullshit. I ignored the red flags that popped up pretty early. But at the end of each week, I questioned whether I was up to the task of helping the company grow, evolve and realize its potential.

And after eight weeks, when it became clear that doing things the "right" way (instead of the quick and dirty way) wasn't a priority for the management, I knew it was time to accept my mistake and walk away. Life is too short to spent 50 hours a week in doubt. September 9 was my last day.

I am genuinely disappointed by how it all went down but I am sincerely grateful for the lesson. It was a pleasure getting to know my team and admiring their dedication to jobs well done. I am thankful for the short time I had to work with each of them and I left having grown, learned and discovered new things.

At the end of the day, my mistakes have:
  • helped me discover what I'm great at
  • taught me valuable life lessons
  • helped me let go of fear
  • taught me to live a life without regrets
  • helped me grow and evolve

I invest heavily in my work and I am proud of my talents. If standing up for doing what's right costs me a job, I'm totally cool with that. That just means I'm available for the next great thing.
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