Who has not experienced failure and disappointment in their career and had to do some considerable soul-searching to recover? Regrettably, I have had my fair share. While humbling, there are a number of important life lessons, foremost among these is learning.

These lessons-learned, or re-learned, include two lists. One of don’t and the other of do.


  1. Don’t spend time on pity, it serves no purpose.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up, it serves no purpose.
  3. Don’t blame anyone else, it serves no purpose.
  4. Do not burn relationship bridges, it serves no purpose.


  1. Write a plan based on research—prepare, prepare, prepare and learn, learn, learn.
  2. Take responsibility and be objective.
  3. Remain humble and grateful.
  4. Maintain relationships—they rule the world—including thank you notes for opportunities won and lost.
  5. Get a trusted agent to vent your feelings and provide reality feedback.
  6. Think in the affirmative—stay positive
  7. Reflect and analyze what occurred.
  8. Write down your lessons-learned.
  9. Write an improvement plan, providing added focus and clarity.
  10. Practice and rehearse that improvement plan, including body language, eye contact, voice and clear thinking.
  11. Implement that improvement plan at every opportunity.

As a subset of this and when “interviewing”, formally or informally:

  1. Learn about the company, job or project description, including leaders, interviewers and panels.
  2. Develop mock interview questions and rehearse multiple times with a mock interviewer.
  3. Develop a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview.
  4. Develop a short list of simple, concise, clear and elegant stories/responses that describe you, your experience/accomplishments, and portend to what you will bring to the job, project or company. Write these down as this will help you focus and clarify your thoughts and avoid rambling. Writing blogs is one methodology.

There are many reasons we fail or are disappointed in life and inadequate preparation and learning are chief among them. I also believe those situations are rarely as bad, or good, as we think. These situations are opportunities to improve, succeed and be stronger in the future. In effect, one door closes and another opens.

We can all do better in our journey through life, certainly this is true for me. We have a lot to learn and a lot more to do.

Our lives and learning stand as a gateway to a new time, a new era and a new beginning, including in transportation and our global economy.

What I’ve learned over the years is to enjoy the process and the community you build around you. To be a great leader you must also be a great collaborator. You must know how to delegate and know where you need to intervene in the process. You cannot second guess. You must treat others as you would like to be treated—the Golden Rule. There is no magic formula to success except to keep learning.

Preparation plus opportunity will lead to success.

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

—Dale Carnegie