Set backs are an inevitable part of life, but Associate Professor Ruth McPhail, from Griffith Business School believes that not getting what you want can actually lead to your dream career.

“I think we are conditioned so that when our expectations are not met, it bothers us, we see it as a negative. But sometimes, when you don’t get what you wanted or expected, you get something that works out better because you’re forced to re-evaluate and re-scope your future. Suddenly new possibilities and options emerge that you might not have seen or considered before,” she said.


Illustration by Demetri Martin, from This is a Book (2012)

According to Ruth, plan B or C shouldn’t be seen as your worst-case scenario plan, but rather an opportunity to be flexible, innovative and creative. Being too rigid with your goals can close you off to opportunities you may not have known about.

Take Griffith business graduate Tim Gibson for example. Despite having his pilot’s licence before he could drive a car, Tim’s lifelong dream of flying for the in Australian Defence Force was thwarted due to his eyesight. Rather than giving up on his dream, he adapted it, and seized the opportunity to incorporate aviation electives and mentoring with Boeing Defence into his degree. In 2014, he won he won the chance to compete against 105 others at NASA in a worldwide competition. His passion and commitment to aviation paid off, and he’s now, he’s training to go into space.

Tim says his failures gave him knowledge, which bred success somewhere he never thought was possible, and he’s ecstatic to have the opportunity to become successful around his dream.

Watch Tim’s TEDxGriffithUniversity–Failure is knowledge, knowledge is success–to learn more about his story.

A flexible mindset is particularly important for students completing high school and considering university–especially if they are feeling anxious about their OP.

“It’s important to remember that university is a new beginning. OPs don’t matter once you come to university as a student. There are lots of opportunities to transition between disciplines at modern universities like Griffith. It’s possible to start a solid, foundation degree and to go on and specialise in an area of your choice,” says Ruth.

Find out more about pathways to Griffith.