I am participating in Amantha Imber’s My Year of Better. This is the second challenge for 2020, and it is the creation of a failure resume.
I am starting in 2002, which is the year after I graduated Year 12 from Wangaratta High School – so I was fully fledged and out in the world …!
2002 – I had applied to go to medical school. But before our exam results came out, Monash University did their interviews for medical school. I had only been driving for a couple of months at this stage, and I hadn’t really driven in Melbourne before, being a country girl. So I decided to get myself to the interview. The traffic was horrible, and I panicked myself because I didn’t think I would make it in time, then I was so worked up in the interview that I cried! I was mortified, and I thought I had no chance of getting into Monash medical. So I immediately changed all my preferences for university, and chose law instead …!
What did I learn? That I should probably ask for help and not be so independent (thought that’s only in retrospect, because I’ve gone on to make that mistake multiple times). That I should not over-react and be self-critical (also another lesson that is only in retrospect and still haven’t really conquered). But that it was better that I studied law rather than medicine, because studying law was portable and when I met my husband I could follow his career around Australia, which I couldn’t have done in medical school.
2002 – I tried my first network marketing business, HerbaLife. I am embarrassed in hindsight about my lack of effort, and really I just let this fail. But it was also very early in the internet era, and I was still walking the streets handing out brochures. I was too shy to do sales, and I didn’t really believe in the products. I just loved the idea and model of network marketing, but the lack of support and personal development really didn’t help.
2003 – I failed constitutional law. this was poor preparation on my part. I was already off-campus by this stage, and had 3 exams in the same week. The exam centre was an hour away from where I lived, and when I arrived for my exam, I discovered it was my constitutional exam, but I had thought it was another subject. I was prepared for constitutional law for the next day, but didn’t have any of my notes or materials, which were an hour away. In my head, I had switched the exam days around. My lesson was to check and double-check.
2004 – I tried Amway instead, this time supported by one of my husband’s friends. The personal development was better, and the products were better – I focused on the skincare and the jewellery. But the sales, and trying to organise parties, and trying to convince people to hold parties and bring their friends, was also not for me. I gave it up too. I finally learnt that selling other people’s products in this model would not work for me.
2005 – I got scammed by one of the early African email scams, saying I had won an online lottery for $1.5m. I was often entering online lotteries and competitions, so it was not completely out of the blue. But I sent $3,500 overseas to get my ‘winnings’ processed for release to Australia – but it was a scam! I learnt to stalk and verify everything online.
2006 – Since a child, I always wanted to be a writer, and I had won short story competitions in my local country newspaper in the past. I wrote a short novella and entered it into a local story competition. It was only the first draft, and I really didn’t polish it, and I didn’t win. Surprise, surprise – in hindsight, I am learning my pattern of self-sabotaging behaviour of doing something half-assed and thinking it would be great …!
2007 – I started the Australian Institute of Carbon Trading – an online business with a couple of guys who were web developers supporting the project. This was early in the days of looking like Australia would get a carbon trading scheme. I developed a huge calculator in the backend which helped businesses work out their carbon footprint, and then I would source the carbon offsets to give their an accreditation of being carbon-neutral. Again, my sales let me down, because I couldn’t sell anything through this business. Then Australia didn’t introduce carbon trading, so I quit.
2012 – I failed to take action against a senior work colleague who physically assaulted me at work. This was because it was all too hard to do anything about it, and I knew I could ‘suck it up’ in the job for a bit longer until I could leave. I have since learnt that his actions were not my fault, but also that taking action was probably the right thing, and hence why so many other women don’t take action.
2013 – my husband had had Grave’s disease for a number of years to this point, and he and I had failed to get it under control, so he had to have radiation. I learnt that I can only do so much, and that I can only control my reactions and not how my husband (or anyone) chooses to deal with a situation.
2014 – I was two years into business and taking on additional staff with growth, and I was exploring new marketing techniques. I tried a ‘conveyancing money’ campaign which was completely unsuccessful.
2015 – I wrote my first book this year and had a book launch. That event was dismal, and I learnt that I hate hosting events and would never do one for myself again (happy to host and organise events for others and community causes, but not myself).
2016 – a colleague and I wanted to start the Fish Bowl, a community version of Shark Tank for children. We couldn’t pull it off. I learnt that I was overloaded at this point and couldn’t take on another thing, not matter how much the idea appealed.
2017 – I couldn’t solve a serious staff dispute, and I ended up losing a staff member that I had invested a lot of hope and time into which was personally devastating to me. I learned many things about managing people through this issue.
2018 – I had done a professional speaking course, because I wanted to do more speaking gigs on equality and female leadership. Launching any form of speaking career failed dismally. Being part of Professional Speakers Australian and on a bureau was useless, and I didn’t have time to try to pimp myself out to get paying gigs. There were plenty of free ones, but I didn’t have time to commit to those.
2019 – I had to euthanise my beloved dog, Akro. After his anxiety and aggression getting worse, he bit a lady, and so it was time to put him down. I learnt grief and a new level of responsibility for the actions of another. I have also hypothesised that his anxiety was fed off my own stress levels and he could sense it through my hormones. I think he wanted to protect me, not understanding otherwise, and that my health has a greater impact on those around me than I might usually think.
On reflection, I generally don’t see the ‘failure’ of some projects and things I’m trialling as a failure. I think I move on and learn pretty quickly. But I also think I have a pattern of not putting in enough effort to get things over the line successfully. So I just shrug off the failure without as much emotionally buy-in.
The failures that I feel more are my general failures to meet my goals. For the last 7 years in business, I seem to perpetually fall short of my financial goals, and it is demoralising. I take this far my personally than any of the failures outlined in my resume above.