The other week, I was out on an early morning run, enjoying a podcast about the importance of failure, and I took a huge spill upon hitting an ice patch. The funny thing is I saw the big wet spot on the fire road. I even saw the icy patches around the edges.
But I went straight through it anyway. I took a risk and fell down. HARD. Really hard. I went belly first and because of the slight decline, thudded on my hip and eventually my shoulder. I fell hard enough that I got the wind knocked out of me, and had to lie on the ground for a moment to recollect myself. While on the ground, I assessed the damage (a hole in my running gloves, a bruised hip, a sore shoulder), while the podcast still hummed along in my ears, and I started laughing because, well…FAIL.
Eventually, I got up, hit rewind on the podcast and continued my run. I completed just over 6.5 miles all while listening to Nina Jacobson talk about how her failures had brought her success and how she maintains a “failure résumé”, basically a laundry list of failures that have taught her something, or led her down a more successful path.
Fast forward to a week later – on New Year’s Day, to be exact – I got up at 4:30 am with Colby to nurse him, threw on my running clothes, and decided to participate in the 6 am Resolution Run with Gixo since I was up anyway. I grabbed my headlamp, my gloves, and my AfterShokz and prepared myself to join in on the class. But before I even started running, I checked the sidewalks near my house to see if there were any obvious signs of ice and tested my footing in various places. Since there were some signs of ice, I committed to staying on the most lit streets and sidewalks and slowing my pace considerably so that I could keep my footing careful and controlled.
While I had to adjust my running route and pace slightly, I didn’t have to entirely scrap my run. I didn’t slip and fall because I was learning from my previous mistake – I was paying better attention to the road in front of me, going around wet spots (sometimes even opting to run in the dirt or grass when available), and slowing down (even walking) when an area seemed particularly sketchy.
And that’s when it hit me: a failure doesn’t mean that you need to completely scrap something and start over, it can simply mean that you need to reassess, redirect, and sometimes make little, micro adjustments to make it right.
Failure provides a unique opportunity for us to learn and respond. When things go well or go right the first time, we lose the opportunity to take a new approach and gain a new perspective. And if you pay attention to why you failed in the first place, it can and often does lead to eventual success.
So in an effort to continue moving forward and making progress in all areas of my life this year – and to avoid the new year trap (getting sucked into goals, resolutions, or big declarations of what I aim to be, do, or achieve), I’ve decided that it will be the year that I pay better attention to my failures.
Enter the failure résumé. I want to create a failure resume so I can better identify my weaknesses and discover new perspectives, gain insight, and grow.
Want to join me? Here’s how you can get started on your own failure résumé.
- Comb through your current résumé for failures. This can mean going through your professional résumé and listing out what you had wished were different in each position you held. Or if you’re like me (a long time small business owner and new mom), it was more about combing through the various events, activities, and choices I’ve made in the last year and identifying the things I wished were different – both in my professional and personal life.
- Put a positive spin on it! Once you’ve made your laundry list of failures, go back through and put a positive spin on each of them. For example, my advanced arm balance yoga workshop had meager attendance. I should have executed better, more targeted marketing tactics. I didn’t really know how to effectively market a yoga workshop when I lead this first one. I have since learned how to use Facebook ads, Instagram promotions, and effectively communicate with students in class about why they should attend future workshops.
- Check it often, add failures as you go! Just like you would any normal resume, check it and update it often. Add failures as you go, add a positive spin once you feel like you’ve learned something from your mistake and move on.
What do you believe are your biggest failures and what did you learn from them?
Stay sweaty (and fail often!).