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A Failure Resume

Last updated Aug 21, 2020 Edit Source

The nature of resumes means that most people only choose to highlight their successes and wins, but rarely the work, effort, and failures on the way. I think this creates an unhealthy culture of idolizing perfection and sets unrealistic standards for what ‘real success’ should look like.

I came across the concept of a failure resume1 a while ago. It’s a list of things that didn’t exactly go according to plan, and the lessons learned. A failure resume isn’t just a showcase of failure in and of itself, but also a document of all the spectacular ways you’ve worked hard towards your own goals and accomplishments. In many ways, it validates your struggle and your effort.

I think by talking more publicly about the blemishes and the not-so-greats, we can start to create a healthier culture that focuses not on the individual failures themselves but rather the learnings from each of them.

This document has served as a powerful reminder to myself of how much I’ve struggled to get to where I am and why I deserve to be here. And more importantly, it serves as a place to reflect and learn from the past and be less scared of failure in the future.

Keeping a failure resume has let me be so much more ambitious in trying new things and applying for things I would otherwise think I’m unqualified to apply for.

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  1. New York Times ↩︎