Dean Jarley likes to talk about learning from failure; so much so that he actually promotes a “failure competition” every semester. This blog comes from a student forced to face her failures. Take a look at how she used them to prepare for an important interview!
Thank goodness I was having a good hair day, because everything else about that day caused me major stress. A mixture of nervousness and caffeine (well, a LOT of caffeine) pumped through my veins as I walked in to room 210, where the first of three interviews was to take place. Two highly esteemed Marketing Professors at the University of Central Florida sat across from me. Great. Intimidation added to the mix of nerves and caffeine, yay. I sat there to tell them why I was such a great fit for the Professional Selling Program, and at the time, I could hardly figure that out myself.
One of the questions I was asked during the first interview was “How would you respond to a close friend of yours who called you average”. Two thoughts ran through my head. One, I really hate how that one word, average, could deflate any ounce of self-confidence I had left. Two, I can say that my close friends, and even my acquaintances, have never considered me average. My general maturity and willingness to try new things lets me be seen as above average in most cases- but in that moment I never felt more average and unprepared in my entire life. Every failure and mistake I have made flooded my mind and literally began blurring my vision. I held those tears in so tight, I don’t think I blinked once for the rest of the interview. There were a few more questions asked (all of which felt like a kick in the gut) and then just like that, the interview ended. After that catastrophe I did what any torn-up college student would do and called mom. Usually my mom is a source of pure encouragement, but for this phone call she laid it out rather bluntly and said “I know you’re great and meant to do great things. But sometimes I get the sense that YOU don’t believe that YOU ARE capable”. No holding back the waterworks then. Mom does always know best.
I had to sit on that one for a while. How could my mom of all people call me out so strongly? Why didn’t I believe in myself?
I looked back on some of my failures and wrote down what I learned from each one. The trend was pretty clear, my failures were really not that bad. From each one, I was able to grow and learn something new. Some instances seemed like a failure at one point and then turned in to a huge blessing. Hear me out when I say this, I thought that attending the University of Central Florida was a failure at one point. Actually, the real failure on my part was not receiving an acceptance letter from the University of Florida where my brother attended school. I though somehow I had let him down AND all my friends and family that were rooting for me to become a Gator. Now I am so proud to tell anyone and everyone that I go to the University of Central Florida! I would not trade my experience for anything and I feel guilty for even considering that UF would have been a better choice for me.
So I took this list of lessons learned, read them, and felt empowered. Yes I am still only one student among 60,000 others at a HUGE University, but I am one student among people who are willing to help me. People who are willing to encourage me and want to see me succeed. Failure has a true victory over you only if you are afraid to conquer it. I will admit, I have let my failures blur my vision, but I am continuously working on my eyesight and seeing the path in front of me.
I got in to the Professional Selling Program. Wait, I GOT IN TO THE PROFESSIONAL SELLING PROGRAM! That’s what it sounds like in my head. The third Professional Selling Program interview was my green light to the right path. I was asked questions like “describe a time when you failed and what you learned”. BAM. I was ready for it. It’s incredible to me that my failures then became a source of power. Suddenly, that word average did not seem applicable to me.
I am a young, college-professional who is meant to do great things. I could get bogged down by comparing myself to others, doubting my abilities, and fixating on failures, but that attitude would keep me in the chokehold of average. The first step towards achieving my dreams is believing that I can. I believe I am capable of doing great things and am using my position as a senior in college to reach new heights. I want to encourage business and non-business students alike to hone in on their skills and learn from failure. Ability to turn your failures into empowerment is an incredible motivator, one that I am using to embody the Above Average Professional in everything I do.
Professional Selling Program, UCF College of Business Marketing Department