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Student Life

The Resiliency Project

The Art of Failure (excerpts taken from STUDENT health101)

Failure and setbacks are painful, whether you flunked a paper or course, didn’t exactly excel at an internship, or missed some other goal. You’ve probably been there. In a recently survey by SH101, two out of three students who responded said they had experienced a failure that seriously rocked their self-belief.

Yet, as counterintuitive as it is, we all need failure and setbacks. Some of the world’s most creative and notable people tell us that failing is integral to succeeding. This helps explain why, in our survey, 7 our of 10 students said they had experienced a failure that led to unexpected benefits.

Imperfection is worth it. The irony is that college is supposed to be all about discovery-of ourselves and the world. “Lots of things that are worth doing are worth potentially doing poorly, in a way.” says Dr. Ariel Phillips, a counselor at the Success-Failure Project at Harvard University, an initiative that reconsiders the meaning of success, failure, mistakes, rejection, and resilience. For example, says Dr. Phillips, “If something is truly a cutting-edge idea or effort, it’s almost certainly not going to be perfect the first time.” That imperfect outcome is how we learn. “Failure and losing are real crystallizing moments in terms of helping you understand where you need work,” says Weinman.

Bottom line: Failure can give us a leg up. For how to turn your setbacks and failures around, reframe them for yourself and potential employers, and use them to fuel your progress.