As the co-founder of Kickresume, a website that helps users create resumes and cover letters, Tomas Ondrejka presumably knows a little something about success. Although he clearly knows the value of presenting yourself in the best light - i.e. - leading with your wins - he was recently inspired to focus solely on failures.
It all started when he was researching Elon Musk, a man known for his billion-dollar ventures. As Ondrejka soon found out, the founder of SpaceX didn't have a linear path to success. In fact, he had some "epic" missteps along the way. But Musk didn't let failed rocket launches and the brink of bankruptcy scare him away from his goals. To highlight that point, Ondrejka compiled some of his more notable failures in one infographic.
"Elon Musk's Resume of Failures" is a great visual reminder that failure is just another part of your success story. It also hints at three reasons why failure is actually one of our greatest teachers.
1. Failure helps you get good at solving problems.
If you succeed at every turn, you're probably not going to go down in history as one of the world's greatest innovators. That's because failure demands that we get better. Let's say your product or approach didn't work. Instead of viewing that as a reason to give up, consider it an opportunity to try something different. Like negative feedback, failure can sometimes provide you with deep, meaningful insights. In Musk's case, each of his failed rocket launches taught him something new, which obviously influenced his later successes.
2. Failure forces you to decide if you really want something.
After you suffer a loss or fail to accomplish a set goal, you have to decide how to move forward. More importantly, you have to decide if you want to move forward at all. Failure provides clarity; if you fail and pick yourself up ready to face the problem again, you know you're committed. This refusal to settle even in the wake of a major disappointment is something that will serve you well in your career and your life.
3. Failure gives you perspective.
Does failure feel like the end of the world? When you put all your time and money and energy into a company, it can certainly feel that way. The reality is, however, that failure isn't the end of the world, and that should be comforting in its own right. That perspective - that the world doesn't end with every mistake you make - is the kind of valuable lesson that likely helped Musk on the way to his many successes.
If you're feeling brave and are inspired by Musk's failures, put together your own resume of failures. See if you're repeating the same patterns over and over again. Step back and look at what you're capable of accomplishing (and what you're capable of moving past). You might be surprised to see just how big of a roll failure has played in your successes. Eventually, you might even learn to embrace it and let it guide you as you move on to bigger and better things.