My Experience With Failure and What I Learned From It

This past Thursday I overcame the biggest hurdle of my summer internship experience. I planned a Seminar on Social Security and managed to get enough seats filled to make the whole experience worthwhile. This task was far from easy; I sent out dozens of e-mails and calls around the city looking for interested parties and was told no time and time again. Nonetheless, success is oftentimes a numbers game and I set the lofty expectation for 20-25 attendees. I managed to get 26. Everything went well and I went to bed that night expecting to write my next blog on the intricacies of my successful seminar project. 6 hours later, disaster would strike and I decided to share my story of catastrophe from the next morning instead.

I was given simple instructions by my boss; we’re going fishing with a client the next morning, meet me at my house at 6 A.M. I’ve never been to his house before, but in the world of GPS phones and MapQuest what could go wrong? I woke up with plenty of time to spare the next morning. I was a little disheartened to see my phone trudging along at 5%, but didn’t think too much about it. I printed out MapQuest directions as an alternative and set off for my bosses with plenty of time to spare.

Sometimes, when life is going well, a construction site comes out of nowhere and flips everything on its back. Well, this literally happened to me about 5 miles from my destination. My directions were all but useless after I emerged from the construction area. I used the remaining 5% of my battery to tell my boss I would be 10 minutes late and scrape up what little sense of direction I could from my phone’s GPS. For the next two hours nothing went right; it was a perfect storm. I couldn’t find my bosses house, no gas station I visited could give me good directions, and I couldn’t for the life of me find a place that would let me use their phone to tell my boss I wouldn’t make it.

I felt overwhelmed with panic at the ensuing events. When I finally got ahold of my boss he was annoyed with me, but surprisingly compassionate. I felt furious with myself for letting him down, and decided to do the next best thing and head into the office to get some work done. The next time I saw my boss I could hardly look him in the eye because I felt so terrible. He was a little disappointed, but I had experienced the biggest failure of my internship and had yet to be shown the door.

I’ve decided that shortcomings tend to stem from one of two avenues; a lapse in judgement or a character flaw. I’m still here today because my boss knows I’m a hard-worker and have a positive attitude. However, I experienced an enormous lapse in judgement this past week. I’ll no doubt pay for this lapse and will be expected to earn back my accountability, but my boss realizes my shortcomings were reparable. After taking time to gain some perspective, I’ve realized that this may not even be the biggest failure I experience in my professional career. There may be times when I let others down or lose money because of an error in judgement. What’s most important is that I can look myself in the mirror and promise I’ll learn from this experience and never make the same mistake again.


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