Season 2

Season 2, Practice Task 4 – Failure Resume

Rationale

More and more people are feeling the pressure of perfectionism. We all set high expectations for our own success and have difficulties dealing with failures. However, connecting the dots, we can understand that our failures taught us important lessons. And looking at this process from Growth Mindset perspective we can make a serious breakthrough.

Activity

Memorize and analyze our mistakes to get useful insights and form new resolutions.

Extra information

Tina Seelig, Professor of the Practice in Stanford University once asked her students to create their Failure Resume. This exercise (and Seelig’s sample answer) was originally published in her book «What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20».

«I require my students to write a failure résumé. That is, to craft a résumé that summarizes all their biggest screw ups — personal, professional, and academic. For every failure, each student must describe what he or she learned from that experience. Just imagine the looks of surprise this assignment inspires in students who are so used to showcasing their successes. However, after they finish their résumé, they realize that viewing their experiences through the lens of failure forced them to come to terms with the mistakes they have made along the way and to extract important lessons from them».

«A failure resume is a quick way to demonstrate that failure is an important part of our learning process, especially when you’re stretching your abilities, doing things the first time, or taking risks. We hire people who have experience not just because of their successes but also because of their failures.

Failures increase the chance that you won’t make the same mistake again. Failures are also a sign that you have taken on challenges that expand your skills. In fact, many successful people believe that if you aren’t failing sometimes then you aren’t taking enough risks. Additionally, it is pretty clear that the ratio of our successes and failure is pretty constant. So, if you want more successes, you are going to have to tolerate more failure along the way».

Sharing our Failure Lists can also help to create a different culture, in which people can share their mistakes/lessons and have courage to be authentic.

Practice Task

Step One

Create your Failure Resume on academic, professional and personal mistakes and write down an important lesson for every screw-up you experienced.

My experience Lessons taken
academic failures
professional failures
personal failures

Step Two

Share your words of wisdom / cases with your colleagues; it can literally save someone’s sanity, energy and time.

Sample answers:

Not taking the time to realize real wishes

Not taking risks and not being curious enough

Avoiding conflicts

Doubting own abilities

Not devoting time to professional development

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