Two Career “Mistakes” That Worked Out In The End

Posted August 26, 2013 by Christie Mims in On the Ladder
Christie Mims is a career coach on a mission to help women find career happiness, and she comes to us today to share some of her biggest lessons (that on first glance) seemed to be BIG mistakes.

Have you ever had one of those “I should have” moments.  You know – those moments where you think to yourself: “I should have done that better” or “Well, I guess that was wrong. I definitely should have done that differently.”

And I started to think about all of the “wrong” turns I had made in the last few years and how I could have done “better” things for my career/business.

And I felt exhausted.

So then I thought: “Well, this isn’t productive” and tried to change my thought. I thought: “What epic lessons have I learned from what I have done?”  And it made me feel immediately better.  Though, to be transparent, the list of epic lessons is very, very long.

So, I whittled it down to two lessons so you wouldn’t be reading my version of Moby Dick.

Ready? Here goes!

Lesson One: I started a blogness with no idea about what I was doing

I am using the word “blog” and “business” as one (blogness!) in this situation because years ago a young Christie Mims was stuck in her job and decided that the women of the world (DC) needed a lifestyle blog that didn’t just talk about where to eat or who do date, instead it talked about if the bartenders were cute in said restaurant, or if the bathroom was well-lit (make up application), and stalked random single men on the street to interview them, and help women find cute guys in the city.

Yes, I was the founder of City Girls World: The Urban Girl’s Survival Guide. I had a business partner who is also a best friend, and for a while we had so much fun.  We didn’t really know anything, or really what we were building, but we just wrote stuff. A lot of stuff. All the time.  And then….I wanted to take it to a business, and she wanted to just keep writing…less.  And we couldn’t really articulate what we were trying to do, or how our content filled a need.  And we were both busy at work (I was still consulting).  And, so I flounced off and thought: “Why did we waste so much time? SERIOUSLY! I’m STILL freaking consulting! ARGGHHH! Why didn’t I get this RIGHT?!!”

And, I threw myself an awesome pity party and wandered off feeling foolish.

But you know what? Building City Girls and then letting it go was one of THE best things I ever did. I learned so much about writing, about twitter (at first I was all: why? why twitter? But now I’m all “bring it!”) and about this whole other world of people doing amazing things.  I also learned a ton about DC and enriched my lifestyle (and attended some pretty swanky parties because of it).  Finally, I learned that a social blog wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to have a tangible service that was impactful in a “real” business.  So when I was ready to start the Revolutionary Club it felt right.  I had done other things and learned from them, and I had a million connections, ideas, and information (like how to use twitter) to help me build it out.  I would not have RevClub if I hadn’t first had CityGirls.

What idea do you want to try that may lead you down a road that you’ve never been. What’s your CityGirls? What’s holding you back from giving it a try? 

Lesson Two: I was too aggressive at work

When I got to my last consulting firm, I realized everyone was very young…but they all had seniority over me. So, I assumed that I should also have some seniority.  Fairly quickly on, I asked for a promotion.  And while I did good work, my attitude was more: “I do good work. You know that. Promote me. I deserve it.” And my company assigned a mentor who was somewhat offended that I would blatantly ask for a promotion.  That led to many awkward conversations and me literally becoming the red-headed step child of the office.

After that conversation with her, I thought to myself: “Ok, I could have phrased that better.” And, I felt stupid and worried and resigned.  But then I thought: “Eff this! I DO good work. I am not going to let one woman drag me down. I’ll just do better work (and have slightly more productive conversations about getting promoted).”  I dropped the entitlement, put my head down, and decided that I wasn’t going to be deterred, and I went after what I wanted even more.

And you know what? Within 5 years I was running that entire business unit.  I’m glad I awkwardly asked for that raise because it brought me to their attention, it made me re-think how I say things, and it inspired me to work harder and go after things even after I thought I lost them. I use that terrier-like mentality ALL THE TIME in my current business, and it is one of the things that has helped with my success.

When did you last ask for what you want, get told no, and go after it anyway with all of your determination?

The point of this story, lovely readers is that we all screw up in our careers. That said, remember: Your next failure might actually be the ticket to your next success…and ultimate career happiness!

 Want to join the career happiness revolution and find more happiness in your work life? Get on BOARD over here.

About the Author

Christie Mims

Christie Mims is The Radical Fairy Godmother to the Woman Trapped in Her Suit. A job reinvention specialist, she is a certified professional career and transition coach with a background working for Fortune 500 companies, the Department of Defense, and large Federal agencies. As a former business unit director in a top consulting firm, she has been there, done that, and worn those uncomfortable shoes. So, while she knows that career transition is hard, it doesn’t have to be lonely! Feeling stuck in your suit? Grab her free job UNstuck kit over at! (That is also where she keeps her sage career wisdom AND a side sass). It’s time to make your career happy!