Failing to Succeed

by Sarah Porter, Head Editor, INALJ California

Failing to Succeed

sarah porterIt’s easy to feel like a failure when entering or attempting to enter the LIS field. When applying for jobs, it’s not uncommon to be rejected by job after job. Even when you land a job it’s likely that you will fumble in the beginning.

As a new Library Technician at the Reference desk, I sometimes fumble, which often leads to plenty of self-doubt. Sometimes I feel like my only redeeming quality is my design skills. I manage to consistently impress the reference staff with the flyers I design. Given that I have a background in design, I sometimes wonder if I should have stuck to a career in graphic arts. Then I remember that I worked hard for years to get to the point of being good at graphic design. I’m sure it takes years to feel like an expert at the reference desk.

One source of solace for those of us seeking encouragement is reading the stories of successful people, many whom failed over and over before they became successful. Sure, there may be a lucky few geniuses who get everything right the first time, but they are the exception. Search Google. It is brimming with stories of famous people who succeed in their careers, despite soul-crushing feedback early on. “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams received one rejection after the other, and an editor even called him to suggest that he take art classes. A Baltimore TV producer told Oprah that she was “unfit for television news”. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off stage due to stage fright, only to come back the next day and bring down the house.

I am convinced that the number one reason people succeed at anything is perseverance. If you really care about something, do not give up. Don’t fear failure. Failing means you’re taking risks. Risks are not only necessary to keep libraries relevant, they also to make you relevant in the world of library and information science.

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