Success observed by someone removed from the work looks a lot like a straight line up.
Right now, I probably look like I’m experiencing immense success. I started a new job that’s a wonderful synthesis of what I love and what I’m good at.
But, the day before yesterday, I got some news that’s disappointing, a failure. I did not pass the estate planning board certification exam on my first try. What’s weird is how I feel about it: I can think a lot about the reasons of why I’ve failed, but I’m not disappointed in myself.
I studied intensely for a solid three months, making it a second job. I applied to take the exam knowing the pass rate is only 50%, knowing it favors people with more exposure to tax than me (or even a more advanced degree), knowing I might not have enough time to bridge the knowledge gap I had from focusing on some parts of the practice and not others, knowing I might not even be allowed to take it.
I am proud, though, of how I failed. It wasn’t for lack of effort or experience or being right for it. It was missing the mark by sixteen points on a scale of 500. Frustratingly close. So, I’ll retake it when the opportunity allows (likely October 2022). I will show myself I can fail and try again.
Success sometimes is encountering a “no” or an obstacle and using it. I own this, and I will use it for my own improvement. I don’t want to put too positive a spin on it. But, I will say, I am experiencing failure—not defeat.
P.S. As I was studying for the exam, I was also interviewing for my current job. It was a Herculean effort to stay focused on studying while pouring energy into that process + my law firm job + still being present for my family. I like how it turned out.