By Team Quake
One of the biggest lessons I’ve taken to heart since joining the Leadership Development Program is to look at each failure as a lesson. Questions we ask often in the LDP are, “What did I do right?” “What did I do wrong?” and, most importantly, “What can I do better next time?”
During my project last year, I had to deliver a vision speech that would spark motivation amongst my team members. Since my project, Spring Orientation, was so large and important, my speech needed to be impactful. I practiced and practiced, trying to make it perfect. After delivering my vision speech, I heard a “Nope, try it again.” from the back of the room. I was instantly mortified. I struggled to recite my speech from memory again. Still, it was not good enough. This cycle happened eight times, before I was told to come back next week with a different speech. I had failed. My vision speech was not what I had imagined it would be.
Looking back on this experience, I realize now that I had done it all wrong. I had only consulted one person for feedback, and that was early in my speech writing. I did not use my team or resources to find a way in which I could be inspiring for such a large project. When trying to motivate a team, starting strong is a key factor in the project’s success. Luckily, I had a great team who ensured that the project went smoothly, despite any hiccups in the process. Without my failure of a vision speech, I would not have learned the skills I might someday need to inspire a team to work together towards a shared goal.
One of my coworkers once told me, “Failure is inevitable in life. It’s not failing or winning that makes a person, it’s how you react that’s important. Do you wallow in sorrow or learn and make yourself better for next time?”
One of the most significant setbacks I’ve experienced, since starting at SIU, was failing to submit my resume to three major automotive companies. They were Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. In Fall 2018, those three companies came to SIU to interview students for internship positions. I did not have my resume ready, nor had I practiced any interviewing skills. I failed to be prepared.
My reaction was to quickly have my resume reviewed by numerous people, practice interviewing skills with my team and apply for as many other internship opportunities as possible. I turned the feeling of failure into motivation. If not for this failure, I would never have pushed myself to get back up and continue working towards this goal. If everything would have simply fallen into place for me, I would have never felt the sense of strength and accomplishment I do today.
“If you don’t succeed, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. If you do succeed, it doesn’t mean that you are king of the world.”
David Beard, an Australian professional men’s volleyball player was truly onto something when saying this. Failure is inevitable. You will win some and you will lose some.
For me, this lesson was learned through playing volleyball. When I first started playing competitively, I hated the sport. In the game, there are times where you are unable to control the outcome of the play. This lack of control drove me insane- until I learned one of the most valuable lessons in both volleyball and life. You are going to fail, no matter how hard you try not to. In volleyball, it is a part of the game. You can’t score a point if neither of the teams makes an error. This same lesson can be applied to the real world. No matter how hard you try, it is inevitable that you will fail at some point. It is how you cope with this failure that can transform you from an Average Joe into an amazing leader. The ability to rally your team, even in the low points, is an important characteristic for a leader. One that can transform a good leader to an exceptional leader.
When I first came to SIU, I had a little trouble with my Spanish class. In the first week, I misunderstood what my teacher said one day. I thought that our quiz was over grammar, when it actually was over vocab. I ended up failing my first quiz in Spanish, which made me extremely worried about my grade. I wondered how it would affect my GPA and if it could make me lose my scholarship.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to do everything I could to improve my grade in Spanish. The steps I took to work on my grade were seeing my professor every week in his office hours and seeing a tutor weekly. Through the extra work, I was able to end the semester with an A in the class. That grade was much more rewarding to see than my other classes, because it was the one I had to work the hardest for. Not only did spending time in my professor’s office hours help my grade, but it also helped us to form a good relationship. This semester I am in an independent study with that same professor, and it is going very well.
It was initially hard for me to see my bad grade, and I was disappointed in myself. However, many good things came out of my failure. It felt good to see all of my hard work pay off, and I would never have gotten to know my professor as well as I do now. The bad grade was not something I wanted, but I learned from my failure and that payed off.