Leadership Blog Teaching and Learning

Hail to the Fail, My Failure Resume

When was the last time you put together a resume of your most stellar failures?  Not likely, right?

It’s fair to say that in life, we have and will screw up.  I know I have many times.

Yet, how often do we speak about it?  Or better yet, publicly celebrate it?

I heard about the failure resume earlier this year in a presentation given by Tina Seelig of Stanford University (she got the idea from a professor at Penn State University).

Seelig requires her students to summarize their biggest failures – academic, professional and personal – and to describe what they have learned from each experience.

A brilliant way to look at failure through a growth mindset!  I’ll be using this assignment in my future classes.

And, this is where I put my money where my mouth is by sharing some of my biggest failures.

Golnaz’s Failure Resume (at a Glance)

Academic Failures

  • Not Studying Abroad: During my Master’s program I had the opportunity to go on an exchange to study abroad.  I played it safe and didn’t go.  I missed the chance to go to a top business school in another country.  I also missed the opportunity to learn about a different culture and meet new people – a chance I won’t get back.  I have since made up for it by travelling as often as possible.

Professional Failures

  • Going for the Title:  At one point in my career, I hastily accepted an offer that came my way solely because of the title and financial rewards.  Even though intuitively I knew it was not a good fit, I still jumped in head first.  After some time I accepted that I was putting my energy into something that I was not passionate about.  I have learned the importance of intrinsic motivation and listening to my intuition.

 Personal Failures

  •  Avoiding Conflicts: There have been a few situations in my life where I’ve avoided conflict and did not have the direct conversations.  By avoiding the issues, the tension did not go away and escalated. I’ve come to the conclusion that temporary avoidance has its place (especially when emotions are running high).  Working through conflict and speaking honestly (using respectful language) is important, even if the person on the other end may not understand or like it.

There you have it.  There are more examples, but I’ll leave it at these three.

I encourage you to try creating your own failure resume as a first step to embracing your failures and exploring lessons learned.