A Failure CV

This week I finally gave into the notifications that had been building in my inbox and I logged on to LinkedIn. I figure if we’re going to try and build something with Traversity then we have to actually tell people about it.

LinkedIn, just like any other social media or portfolio/cv sharing situation tends to offer a pretty skewed version of your career development. It shares the positions you held, the awards you won, the grants that were successful. It tells the story of a journey without failures.

This reminded me of the idea of the failure resume which I first learned about here, but there are many references to it if you look including this article from nature.

My reflection on this is that it’s useful to share these things more openly than we do. Useful to our peers in putting their own experiences into perspective. Useful to ourselves in reflecting on the experience and the learning opportunities that came from them.

I’m not going to go so far as to share a detailed list with you as I suspect it would be pretty boring, but I will share a few highlights…

  • with two exceptions, the rest of the jobs I’ve applied for I either haven’t got or I was the only applicant. The failures were a mix of longshots, difficult losses and near misses.
  • my first submission of a peer reviewed article received two positive sentences from reviewer one and seven pages detailing more than 30 specific points to address from reviewer 2. This left me thinking that reviewer 2 was a bit of a dick, but it did make me revisit how I was trying to communicate my message which led to an improved paper.
  • I once had to push to pull the pin on the implementation of a clinical software solution which had been funded by charitable donations. I tried really hard to make it work, but I couldn’t. It taught me that sometimes it’s better to accept subject costs rather than never quitting at any cost.

Without these experiences I never would have taken this risk on what could turn out to be an epic fail of trying to get this whole Traversity thing going. I’m not saying this to be self deprecating, more to say that even though risks don’t always go your way I still think they’re worth the opportunity for growth.

What failures have helped to make you what you are today?