Today, my LEAD 450 Senior Seminar class had the opportunity to listen to Governor John Carlin. who is a current professor at K-State who teaches courses in politics and leadership. He shared insight with all us seniors as we are looking ahead to graduation and future plans. He spoke about holding true to your values in times of difficulty and what it means to take opportunities when they are presented to you, even if they are something completely unexpected.
One quote he said really resonated with me.
“Learn from your failures, but don’t fail to learn”
When he said this, he emphasized the idea of not intentionally failing for the sake of learning. Don’t get yourself in way over your head, therefore forcing you to wash your hands of a task, allowing it to fail, qualifying the failure with the idea that you gained knowledge about taking on a task that was insurmountable. That is not going to do you any good.
This conversation in class really put the idea of “failure” into perspective for me. Our world is so focused on the idea of being second best being equivalent to being a failure. “If we don’t accomplish our goal of getting first place, we have failed.” This phrase is all to often heard on the athletic field, in awards ceremonies, or in any measurable task.
During my college career, my definition of failure has been shifted. Shortcomings and failures are inevitable, but what decisions you make after the instance is what truly defines if it was a complete failure altogether.
Let me give you a personal example.
Many would say I “failed” in accomplishing one of the most important things a college student can do to enhance their job qualifying experience: obtaining a summer internship. The second semester of my junior year met me with 4 rejections for internships. I remember the days of utter sadness, thinking I wasn’t good enough or I had completely picked the wrong degree path. I just couldn’t understand why I kept “failing” over and over again.
I can say with full confidence that the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college was one of the best of my life. I had the chance to work 3 different jobs, each adding to my skill set of relationship building and critical thinking skills. I took 6 hours of credit, keeping me on track to graduate this upcoming May. I still felt the negative pull of knowing I had not acquired an “internship”, but I kept my head up, knowing the skills I was gaining that summer were just as necessary and beneficial in the long run.
Now, graduation is 26 days away and I have a job waiting for me in June 🙂
Short comings and failures are always on the horizon. That is just a fact of life. It is how we handle them that our true competence is then measured. Looking to finals week and finishing up projects and papers, remember that the result may not be what we are looking for, but there is always a way to grow and the only way you truly fail is by giving up.
Keep pushing through, Wildcats! Summer is just around the corner! We can do this!