Looking At It Another Way

Recovering from past career mistakes is possible

Relying on his intellect, charisma, and self-admitted arrogance, Eric Callahan was making between $7,000 and $20,000 a month in 1992 as a broker with the now-defunct Hanover Sterling. “It was a very intoxicating feeling of power. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be a millionaire by age 30,” he says.

“When I was younger, I relied heavily on the fact that I had a great deal of potential,” continues Callahan, now a 34-year-old real estate investor. Young and naive, Callahan lived in a 3,000-square-foot Manhattan loft and, depending on his mood, drove either his 750 iL BMW or his 850 CSi sports coupe. While others in the firm were working long hours, he started his workday late, slacked off early, and partied regularly.

When Hanover Sterling went out of business, Callahan was at a loss. “I just kind of figured that [the job] would always be there,” he says. He went through his savings; had to give up his cars; paid bills late; and, ultimately, had to move back home.

“Mishaps sometimes turn out to be the beginning of a new adventure or new career,” offers John Krumboltz, a psychology and education professor at Stanford University and author of Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career (Impact Publishers; $15.95). “They provide lessons and opportunities, if you can find a way to take advantage of them.”

Krumboltz says Callahan is a better person for having gone through that experience. Callahan agrees. “Now, potential just seems like a bad word to me. I respect what hard work is now. Everything I’ve learned has helped prepare me for this day.”

In order to maneuver and prosper in your career despite unfortunate events or lost opportunities you must be able to:

Recover from the past. Arthur Freeman, clinical psychologist, dean of the School of Professional Studies at the University of St. Francis, and author of Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Overcoming Regrets, Mistakes, and Missed Opportunities (Harper Collins; $13), says that we must overcome catastrophic thinking in order to be successful. “Some people have an all-or-nothing way of thinking. People who spend their lives looking back over their shoulders in regret at what they didn’t do are hindering their own success. Unless we are able to defend ourselves from our [own] negative internal dialogue, we risk failure,” he adds. Research shows that people who give themselves positive reinforcement report an almost immediate improvement in their performance and an increase in energy.

EQ At Work, a full-service, emotional-intelligence training and coaching organization located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has an emotional competency self-assessment quiz available to those who visit its Website (www.eqatwork.com), which includes evaluating your level of resiliency.

Take reasonable risks. “Some people are just not risk takers, so they work for an organization where they’re guaranteed a paycheck and they don’t have to worry about layoffs, even though they are unhappy,” says Freeman. “You have to have the courage to be imperfect.”

Do you ask others for advice before making career decisions? Do

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