The great thing about failures

Writing a CV can be tough. You have to include every important information but shouldn’t go too far because HR people have no time. In general, you include your major success stories and your positions. Maybe also some minor ones because they are cool and unexpected. You mention your skills, your languages and try to make everything look neat and cool. That is what the CV game nowadays looks like. Everyone does it. But is it right? Is it honest? Do you get a good impression of a person by their successes? Do you get who they are as a person and why they are who they are? I’m not sure and neither is Johannes Haushofer, a Princeton professor of psychology and public affairs, which gave me the inspiration to write this.


The CV of failures

The professor has had a great idea to show that you are not just defined by your success stories but also or even more by your failures: He wrote a CV of failures. Johannes Haushofer himself passes the credits for this idea on to Melanie Stefan who wrote an article about it for the magazine Nature back in 2010.


2016 – This darn CV of Failures has received way more attention than my entire body of academic work.
– Johannes Haushofer in his CV of failures

Grow through self-reflection

Doing this is a great idea to reflect on the decisions you made in life. Everyone has some failures to report but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Because it defines who you are. The important thing is to reflect on your failures and use them as an inspiration. Use them to grow and find your path. Your failures aren’t your fault because you tried. And to succeed in trying is still a success.

Let others grow through self-reflection

Keeping a visible record of your rejected applications can help others to deal with setbacks.

Melanie Stefan.

It’s also a great way to show other people that failure is nothing to be afraid of. It’s something you have to deal with. Everyone gets rejected but not everyone can easily deal with it. If you’re strong, show it and lead other people. Show them that they don’t have to fear failures.

Extra thoughts

This could also be a great way of showing different obstacles our society still has for different groups of people like women, black people, Asians or people with disabilities. People who face rejection every day. It’s important to support and develop a culture of inclusivity. Buffer recently wrote a great article about inclusivity and why it’s so important. They even dedicated a role for this, the Inclusivity Catalyst. With people showing off their CV of failures, society would hopefully get more aware of the harassment, prejudices and racism these people are sometimes exposed to. For a male white dude, like me, most of the failures are typical I guess. I can’t even imagine what a lot of people go through every day.

What did I fail at? What did it do to me?

  • School: I have to admit that I was too lazy. And I thought it was me. But it was the content. Now I find myself being productive and ambitious about what I do. Because I love what I do. I’m addicted to everything related to marketing, I love writing, I love communities.
  • University: I tried it. It wasn’t for me at that time. I can imagine myself being a student soon but when I tried it three years ago I failed. After four months I resigned and got a job at an online marketing agency. That was great because it led me to where I’m now.
  • Relationships: I have a lot of friends I’d love to see more often. I also have a lot of friends I should contact more often. I also failed at some relationships. But I have also met some awesome and inspiring people which I’ll keep in touch with forever.
  • Everything else: I’m sure there are a lot of other things. Maybe writing this blog post was one? Maybe there will be an HR manager who reads this in a few years and thinks about me as a weak and poor guy because I failed and write personal blog posts about it. If you read this: Yes, I did. I still do. And I will fail again. But you do, too. And everyone else does, too. Failure is not weakness. Not facing your failures is.

Now I’m here…

Yes, now I’m here. In Australia. Writing blog posts about working remotely for FastBill. Meeting more awesome people, learning new things and keep on exploring myself and the world. Of course, I also keep failing. But that’s life. Fail often, fail hard, learn, be successful.

Since I started traveling in January I thought a lot about who I am and why I am who I am. I had a hard time finding the path I’m now on and I failed a lot. But all these failures led me to where I am now and I’m grateful for every single failure. I feel successful now. Not in a way that I reached my goal, that I’m the winner but in a way that I finally found the right path I belong on. This path has no goal, it has no end. It’s just a path. If this path will be a failure too I’m sure that I’ll discover another path by this. Maybe you can find some inspiration in this, too.

What are your biggest failures? Join the discussion and tweet them now:

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