Career Courage For Career Changers

I was in Washington, DC on the floor of Congress. My friend who invited me to the event had a high level position for a young person in the government. A Harvard undergrad, Yale law school graduate, Lizzie had big career aspirations.
I mentioned that Marc, a mutual acquaintance, might become a Congressman someday.  Lizzie noticeably bristled. “Why? He’s not that smart or that likable.” I realized that she thought that I was making some kind of comparison related to her as she presumably thought she would become a Congressman.  
I laughed. “I didn’t mean that as a compliment!” Like most, I have a rather dim view of most political officials. Many are bright and many are likable. But neither are the quality that led them to Congress. Most – if not all – have big egos and had the courage to face failure.  Marc had such an ego and a willingness to face a public failure like running for Congress.  While Lizzie was both smarter and more likable, I knew (and later history proved this to be true) that she would not want to face potential public failure, even if she desperately wanted to be a public official.
Over the last twenty years since I had this conversation with Lizzie, it does seem that the talent pool of our Congressmen has steadily declined. The level of accomplishment, brains, and general people skills has been lowered and the egos have increased.  But the one thing that does remain true is that each member of Congress faced public failure.
In relation to Career Counseling Connecticut’s client base, I am routinely confronted with clients who have career dreams that are dashed by fears of failure.  I totally understand. Fear of failure is very high on the list of my worries.  I also know, however, that success only comes through risk.