Professor’s list of failures goes viral

by Kristie Burk

In case you missed it blowing up the Internet last week, Princeton University Professor Johannes Haushofer did something that was pretty amazing.  He posted his list of failures for all the world to see and tweeted it with #cvoffailures.The story was quickly picked up by The Washington Post, CBS, NPR, and even Seventeen Magazine.

Many professors and other professionals post their curriculum vitae, which is usually a list of their best accomplishments.  However, this professor also posted his “CV of Failures,” which includes things like “Degree Programs I Did Not Get Into,” “Awards and Scholarships I Did Not Get” and, my favorite, the “Meta-Failure.” (Read that last one for yourself.)

“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.” – Professor Johannes Haushofer

Professor Haushofer credits Melanie I. Stefan at the University of Edinburgh, for the idea. She wrote “A CV of Failures” several years ago for Nature.

I think this is an awesome example to share with students to show them that success includes many, many (many?) failures along the way and that it’s okay to fail.

And in the spirit of  #cvoffailures I will share that I once applied to be a part of the CIA and didn’t get past the second round.

How about you?





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