My previous post was about the importance of sharing your failures in order to help others, and shortly after I wrote it, I happened upon a short video by Dan Pink on similar topic:

The failure resumé.

What an intriguing idea! Let’s explore.

What’s a Failure Résumé?

A failure résumé is pretty much what it sounds like: a list of your major failures (and ideally, what you’ve learned from them). As far as I can tell, biologist Melanie Stefan came up with the idea, and it gained widespread attention when Princeton psychologist Johanes Haushofer published his.

A failure résumé is a tool for self-reflection: it helps ensure we’re extracting as much value from our failures as we can. Since failure is a much better teacher than success, it’s worth our time to brave some discomfort and examine our failures.

Why Write a Failure Résumé

Writing a failure résumé will teach you (or remind you of) a few things:

  • Failures are learning opportunities (hokey but true).
  • Good comes from bad.
  • Most things are not as big a deal as they seem at first.
  • Failures always outnumber successes.

It’s an exercise in humility and self-forgiveness, trust me.

How to Write a Failure Résumé

It’s pretty simple. There are only four steps:

  1. Sit down with a piece of paper or a blank screen.
  2. Write down your biggest failures (brainstorm, don’t self-edit).
  3. Next to each, write down what you learned from the experience. This may require some reflection.
  4. Optional: Type it up and make it look all purty.

My Failure Résumé

Let me be perfectly clear: a failure résumé does not have to be public. It’s intended for private reflection. But when you write a personal development blog, it’s easy to fall into the trap of giving advice you wouldn’t follow yourself. Putting my money where my mouth is keeps me honest, and I’d be honored if you found my failure résumé useful when writing your own.

Here it is, then. Behold my screwups!

I encourage you to start your own failure résumé, and get in touch if I can help!