Hard work doesn’t always pay off

“I am sorry. I really don’t know why we didn’t make it. We did everything we could, everyone has worked so hard…” her voice trailed off. Steven looked up at the most senior project manager the company had. She was standing by the window in his office, hunched over, no sign of the energy that normally radiated from her tall figure. 

He put down his reading glasses. Knew how she hated when he was acting fatherly, so he resisted the urge to get up from behind his desk and pat her on the shoulder.

“I take it this is your first project that didn’t deliver as planned?”

She turned toward him.

“Of course. I have never failed before. I don’t understand how we could miss the deadline, and I really don’t understand how the competition could make it on time. I don’t get it. We did everything right; better than in previous projects in some aspects but… this time it wasn’t enough.” She looked at her shoes, black with red tips.

Now he couldn’t stop himself from getting up, so he did, and he put his hand on her shoulder.

Photo by Felipe Cespedes from Pexels

“Let me tell you a secret.” She looked at him, wondering why he was whispering like a child. 
“Sometimes even winners lose. You can do everything right and still fail. You can give it all you’ve got and the results will still not be as expected.”

She swallowed hard. He walked back to his desk, quoting Rachel Simmons:

“The humbling, brutal, messy reality is that you can do everything in your power and still fail.”

Many of my clients beat themselves up when they don’t achieve all their goals. They think that hard work always pays off. The truth is - sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

Holistic Time Management tip:

 Instead of beating yourself up when things don’t go your way, remember that obstacles are really just detours in the right direction.


The stairway to heaven is not a stairway

“But I am not ready!” Nora looked at her boss, her eyes wide, her heart pounding.

“Ready?” Her boss looked at her over the round glasses. “What is ready?”

Nora looked back with an annoyed frown.
“Well, you know, I thought I would lead one of the smaller projects first, before taking on a project of this size.”

Her boss smiled, looking more like a wise old owl than usual.

“It would be nice, wouldn’t it? If your big goal would sit nicely on top of a stairway, waiting for you to climb there, one step at a time. With enough time on each step to get used to the altitude.”

Nora plucked with her scarf, not knowing what to say.

“The thing is”, her boss continued, “that there is no such thing as being ready. And there is definitely no such thing as an opportunity showing up exactly when you think you are ready. The road to success is not like walking stairs. Some stairs are missing. Sometimes you miss the stair. Actually, it is more like walking in the mist. You only see the first few steps of your journey. The other steps will not be clear until you get there.”

Nora cleared her throat.

“But, what if I… you know, fail?”

“You won’t. You’ll do your best and you will get help when you need it. You see, if you want to wait until the mist clears, you will notice that whatever you are looking for has moved by the time you get there.”

“So, what do I…”

“You start walking and trust that you will find your way. Or, in this case, just take the role I am asking you to take, will you?”