Laura Harrop

Like eating breakfast, failure is an essential part of daily life. When I say that we all fail each and every day, I am not exaggerating. Some days, I experience smaller failures, such as forgetting a commitment with a friend or family member. Less frequently, I experience heart-wrenching failures, like not getting into my preferred university program or failing an important test. You would think that minimizing failures in the heart-wrenching category would make a person more successful. I’m here today to tell you that the opposite is true. Failing in big ways offers individuals the opportunity for critical growth. The ability to bounce back from extreme failures both personally and professionally is a cornerstone of reflection and determination. The act of failing in itself is far less telling of strength of character than is a person’s response to failure. In other words, failing something majorly doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it has the potential to make you stronger, you just have to be open to it. 

At work, when you gun for a promotion that is given to another employee, I urge you to look inwardly. Contact your supervisor and ask how the decision was made, and then ask yourself, honestly, did you deserve that promotion? What could you improve upon professionally? Try to hone in on your biggest failures, because the truth is, these instances will actually teach you more about yourself than minute failures ever will. The greater the failure, the greater the room for improvement.

Why is a commonly asked interview question, what is your greatest failure, and how did you respond to that? It doesn’t matter that you failed, what matters is what you did after you failed. It is important to experience failure so that you can learn not only to deal with it but to use it to reflect on and re-evaluate your own self goals. As painful as job rejections can sometimes be, they force us to ask ourselves, is there something we could have done differently in for example, the interview? Or, failure can tell a person about their aims as a whole, such as whether the job is really right for them. In the face of failure, I conduct a critical reassessment of myself, where I am able to identify a) if this is what I want and if yes, then b) what I should change for next time.