Never Lose? You Can't Work Here


I sat uncomfortably in front of my CEO.

Six months prior, I presented an idea to start a new industry service line, but things weren’t going well. The team had not yet made any money. By every measurable metric, I was a failure.

Even though I appreciated the candor and professionalism, his ultimatum was clear. I was to create a minimum revenue stream on a monthly basis for the next nine months. If I missed a single month, the group would be eliminated, and I would be “redeployed”.

At this point in my career, my ego was enormous, certainly more than my achievement warranted. I had a choice after this meeting. I could quit, or I could fight. I chose the latter.

This would be, for me, a seminal moment. I crushed my ego, and ignored the chatter around me. I destroyed my preconceptions about work limitations and focused 100% of my energy on executing the plan. One year later, my division had climbed from last place to third out of twenty. I was forever changed by my failure. My ego crushed, I became a new person.

If I’m interviewing you, and all you do is win, forgive me for my skepticism, but I know a few things about you.

You Are Scared

There’s nothing worse than a naturally “talented” person with a big ego who never fails. If you never fail, it means that you don’t take chances. If you don’t take chances, it means that you are fearful of challenging your “talented” status. What you call talent, I call cowardice.

You Won’t Challenge Yourself

The reason you never fail is because you don’t wander outside of your comfort zone. This womb provides you with a warm, cozy feeling so that you can forever be an infant. You will soon become bored with your lack of productivity and boredom will turn to bitterness. You will naturally discourage others from challenging your position on the hierarchy by attacking them subtly.

You Strategy Stinks

Ironically, your strategy of avoiding failure will ultimately fail.

The good news is that it is never too late. You can shed that bad attitude like an old coat. If you do, come see me. I hire talented failures.

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Jeremy Bennett has been interviewed by Crain's and the Houston Chronicle. He is the CEO of J Bennett Recruiting, a boutique Retained Executive Search Firm that specializes in Healthcare. He is a father of two and connoisseur of West Coast IPA’s.


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