Tonight I have had the pleasure of watching one of my all time favorite movies. In Elizabethtown, Cameron Crowe paints such a beautiful picture of failure and loss. Drew Baylor finds himself facing a failure at work categorized as a fiasco, a failure of mythic proportion, right as he finds out his father has died. By the end, he embraces his carefree, deep spirited love interest Claire’s mantra to “fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.” It’s all about perseverance to get that success.
While I haven’t exactly faced failure in the same sense and haven’t experienced any significant loss lately, I still want to take that philosophy with me on my journey to improve my career and life right now. Recently, I have interviewed for a position at a company that sounded like a job I’d absolutely love and was in the perfect location. I have since found out that they have decided to choose another candidate. Not having that kind of job secured makes it more difficult for me to determine my living arrangement. All I can do is keep pressing forward, and that’s what I do. Part of that means I have to take a seemingly greater risk by moving prior to landing my dream job. At least I can transfer my retail job to whichever store I choose.
The area I choose may ultimately be the landmark of my “success.” On his way home from his father’s funeral, Drew honors his promise to Claire to take a road trip across the country. As he starts in Kentucky, he visits special places on the way back to Oregon. One place of particular interest involves the music scene in Memphis, Tennessee. The screen shows signs for big record companies and posters with Elvis. He stops to talk to a bar owner after eating a bowl of the world’s best chili. Drew even stops to visit scenes of tragedy, including the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the survivor tree in Oklahoma City. This mix of success, failure, and tragedy culminate the movie’s theme that the bigger picture always extends far beyond the scope of a current failure, even beyond a fiasco. As the movie points out, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “death was only the beginning of his success.” Maybe the fiasco at work is merely the beginning of Drew’s success. Either way, he maintains his smile and pursues a relationship with Claire and moves forward after losing his previous job.
I too keep smiling through the potential disappointment of not getting jobs for which I interview. The odds always are greater that I will not hear back from a company after filling out an application, let alone get an interview. Yet the odds only go up when I fill out another one. Keeping a smile on my face, I appreciate the situation in which I find myself and my determination to take efforts to increase my odds and make my environment the best it can be for myself. That perseverance will get me my next job one of these days.