Always Assume Success, but Learn to Accept Failure
Lessons Learned from Lean In for Graduates
May 9, 2014
Editor's Note: Earlier this year, we announced an exciting milestone in the UK of 15 million members. Students and recent graduates emerged as our fastest growing group, so we decided to leverage LinkedIn data to uncover 15 ‘Ones to Watch’ – UK students or recent graduates who truly understand the value of LinkedIn and the power of networking. This inspiring group includes five women and ten men from a variety of backgrounds, including a sprinkling of budding entrepreneurs, a few bloggers and good number of volunteers! To celebrate their successes, we invited these members to an inspirational event hosted by Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg. This is what one of the attendees Guzmán Díaz Solana had to say about the experience:
During the last two years, I have lived in three countries, garnering experience in various high-growth venture-backed tech companies, working in both marketing and finance roles.
A few weeks ago, LinkedIn let me know that I am on their list of top 15 “Ones to Watch” graduates in the UK. As a Spaniard, my prospects when graduating university, even when attending one of the top institutions in the country, were not particularly good, so you could say I am very lucky to have ended up where I am right now.
However, while I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given, in my opinion there is no such thing as luck. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
I recently attended one of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for Graduates events, which was incredibly insightful and got me wanting to share some thoughts for those who, like me, faced the challenge of finding a good job upon graduation.
This is not a very comprehensive list, and not everything will be true for everyone, as this is based in my own, limited experience:
Keep learning. Education doesn’t finish after university. In fact that’s the point at which it starts. As mechanical tasks are increasingly replaced with automated technology, your best chance to stay ahead of the curve is to constantly update your knowledge and be creative on how you apply it.
Travel abroad. Don’t be a tourist, go where locals go. Whether that means taking a gap year, going on exchange, volunteering or interning abroad, having an international experience and additional languages will not only boost your employability, but also give you amazing memories that will last for life.
Work Out. Have an active lifestyle, go to the gym, play team sports, lift. The Romans had it clear: “Mens sana in corpore sano”. You don’t need to become a bodybuilder, you’d be surprised by how much running a couple of times a week helps.
Exploit your strengths. Find what is it you are good at. Use it to your advantage. It may be sports, math, creativity, writing or socialising. Everyone is good at something, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something impressive.
Be yourself. Chances are your skills are easily replicable. In this case, whether someone can endure 8+ hours a day next to you or not is a major factor influencing the outcome of your interviews, so they should like you for who you are.
Assume success. Always tackle things with a positive mentality. It will force you to try things you would be shy to otherwise. It may go wrong sometimes, but it will go right others. Fail, learn, iterate.
Accept failure. When things go wrong, don’t let them overcome you. Sh*t happens. To everyone. Sometimes you will be the best person for that role, but the people interviewing you won’t like you, and that is fine, it’s their loss. Again: fail, learn, iterate.
Do what you enjoy. Pursue a career in something you truly enjoy. If you do what you like, you will be good at it, and if you are good, money will follow. It’s true it’s easier to get a well paid job as a software engineer than, say, as a musician, but that just means you’ll have to work harder to achieve your goals.
Work hard. As hard as you can, you are expected to. Don’t limit yourself to your job description, try to go beyond and find ways to add value to both what you do and what everyone else does. However, don’t overwork for the sake of overworking.
Party harder. Ultimately, life is about people, so go meet people and have fun. You deserve it. The larger your network is, the better opportunities you will have in your future. Sometimes it’s better to hit the pub than to work on your cover letter.
I believe we stress too much. And it’s understandable, being a graduate these days is very stressful. The expectations people (and ourselves) have of us are very high, and the competition is very stiff. However this stress often hinders our ability to succeed.
Don’t obsess about anything. Remember that the most important thing is…
Lean In for Graduates is an enhanced edition of Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling business book. The revised version features a passionate letter from Sandberg encouraging graduates to find and commit to work they love and a combination of inspiration and practical advice. Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg is out now in hardback and ebook.
Check out our 15 "Ones to Watch" in the UK