Princeton Professor Creates "CV of Failures"

Princeton University Professor Johannes Haushofer published his "CV of Failures" on the school website, as he says, "to balance the record and provide some perspective":

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 list includes programs he didn't get into, journals that rejected his articles, and research funding he didn't get.

CV of Failures

The idea came from an article in Nature by Melanie I. Stefan, a lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Haushofer tweeted, "Dear everyone writing your own CV of failures: just to point out I'm not aware of scientific evidence saying it does anything good for you." Still, his compilation is an expression of humility and reminds all of us that successes are built on failures. In my view, if we don't have failures, it's possible we're not reaching high enough.  

Discussion Starters:

  • If you wrote a resume of failures, what would you include? Think about the companies that didn't hire you and the schools from which you were rejected.
  • How do your failures make you feel? Are you still feeling hurt by them, or have you moved past it?