One of my long-standing pet peeves with the field is its willful evasion of examining failure. There’s too much paranoia over controlling narratives and fear of negative donor reaction that we not only miss out on learning from failures, but we begin to spin them as success. Worse still, there are plenty of examples where such action is rewarded.
What I wouldn’t give to lead a sincere panel discussion where executives talk openly about their failures. What they learned, why things went wrong, and how what they thought would be career-killers actually made them better.
I’ve pitched the idea for decades and while it has never gained traction, I’m an optimist and hope to see it become standard practice before I retire.
In the meantime, we’ll need to be content with taking what we can get. To that end, Holly Mulcahy published a post at Neo Classical where she puts it all out for everyone to see in an article titled My Bio: The Fabulous Failures Edition.
Occasionally I have shared some of my own failures or misadventures in my career. So now I have taken the extra step and rewritten my bio with only my failures. Not all of them, but a good amount of failures I thought were the lowest points of my life at each of those moments. It’s a great exercise in empathy and self-worth. It’s also a great reminder that in order to succeed, there must be some very big failures and roadblocks.
Holly invites readers to share in the exercise and I may end up doing exactly that later in the week. How about you; what would your failure bio look like?