A Failure Story from an Ambassador

With both the failure competition and ambassador interviews in the mix this month, I thought I’d post my favorite failure competition story from last semester.  The story didn’t make it to the finals, but I thought it was the most honest story of the competition from one of our very own Ambassadors…Meg.  For those considering becoming an ambassador, it gives you a preview of what you can expect if you join us…..

I failed the Dean. 

I did. I, one of the beloved Ambassadors at the College of Business, failed the dean. It is the duty of an Ambassador to embody Dr. Jarley’s vision to the students in the college and I was terrible at it. The failure did not start with me becoming an ambassador or serving on the Executive Board as Ambassador Relations Chair and later as Secretary. It began with a changing, negative mindset that seeped into my senior year, a first for me. 

A little background. I’m the typical goody-good that all parents and professors love. In high school I was a straight A student (for the most part) and was involved with too many organizations. I got great scholarships in college and will graduate debt free and a semester early. I picked up the slack in group projects and visited professors during their office hours to just chat. I interned with one of the Big Four and landed a full time position. I was accepted into graduate school and secured a grad assistant position. So how am I not The One? I had a pissed off attitude the whole time.

When I became an Ambassador I didn’t exactly know what I was jumping into, plunging really. I was thrown into this new Welcome to the Major event where apparently I was going to help guide 1,500 students into the college. Instead of going into it with a positive mindset, I just kept thinking “I could be in bed instead of talking to a bunch of students asking me stupid questions about this new one credit class.” Three Welcome to the Majors and a year later, I became bitter towards Welcome to the Majors and many other events the dean hosts. I was exhausted and drained from early mornings, an always smiling face, and the constant voice in my head saying “I hate this, this is stupid, you have an exam you should be studying for.” For me, being Ambassador just wasn’t worth it, and I let everyone know. 

I have seen this semester that my negativity has impacted the Ambassador group as a whole. We certainly have a lot more events now with the Exchange being open and instead of embracing this opportunity, I have put up a guard and turned away from it. I used to think the dean didn’t care about students, that he was changing everything in the college to mess with our credits and keep us here longer. Wrong. He cares about us and wants us to succeed with the degrees we are getting here at UCF. But I never told anyone that. 

I have learned from my negative attitude that it ruins a lot of things. My boss at work can see it, my parents can see it, my roommates, friends, boyfriend can see how mean and negative I have become. It has created a passivity that I have never had before. 

Failure doesn’t always happen in one instant. It’s like a virus, it seeps in and you don’t really notice it but over time, you feel worse and worse until you’re brought down to nothing. I feel pretty bad about being such a bad steward of the dean’s vision about engagement and leadership and risk taking because really, he’s a pretty nice guy who deserves more from me. Being an Ambassador has done for me more than I know. I have learned how to talk to business professionals and have talked with so many students about how to be successful here at UCF. In five, ten, twenty years, I know I will be able to look at the College of Business and say I helped contribute to what it is today, even if I did have a bad attitude. Who knows what I could have actually done had I had a better attitude?

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The Importance of Telling Your Story

Roy had his last day on the payroll Friday.  A man with an infinite number of connections and his finger on the pulse of the Orlando, we hired him to help us strengthen our presence in the community, amplify our message and invite people to join us as we transformed the College.  We did just that. 

While I hired a communications director, I soon learned that I got a natural teacher. Roy helped many a Joust contestant to tell their company’s story.  He helped Jess Wolfe sharpen his story all the way to Shark Tank.  He shaped the Ambassador’s future and counseled many a lead ambassador along the way (e.g., Amanda, Renee, Casey, Nor).  Roy helped the Business Leadership Council spread the message of engagement to the student body and he helped coached sixty students on how to tell their personal story at this year’s Hall of Fame.

But he saved his best lesson on the importance of telling your own story for last. When some students expressed sadness that Roy was leaving, he told them how his work at the College was done, that he achieved what he set out to do, that the college needed different people to help with different challenges and that it was time for him to write the next chapter in his own story. 

That new chapter begins today when he assumes the role of Executive Director of Communications for Adventist Health System Florida Division. But don’t worry, I’m sure that new chapter will have a few sentences about the College of Business in it.  Charge On Roy.  Keep telling people about the importance of telling their own story.

Wow, That Was a Huge Failure…

At our 2014 Hall of Fame event, we featured a video of then Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley who is also CEO of Florida Hospital, Winter Park. The video starts out with Ken saying the following: “I came to UCF as a failure and left a success.” Ken had seen his dream to enter medical school dashed, but found his future at UCF. He has gone on to great things and now has doctors reporting to him! His achievements landed him in our Hall of Fame, a place where only 67 of our more than 55,000 alums have been recognized for their accomplishments.

Despite what helicopter parents think, everyone fails. It is part of life. A Knight should never fear failure. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the ninth installment of our Failure Competition.  Entering our competition is simple:

Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past.  Your failure story has to focus on a new experience, a time you stepped out of your comfort zone: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others.

While the Failure Competition began with students in our capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF.  Two semesters ago, we had a music student win the competition.

Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

1. To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a capstone student this semester include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 pm on Monday April 4th.

2. Instructors from the Capstone Course will then choose a winner from their section and explain why they chose the essay they did. A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider from the rest of campus. I need these by 5 pm on April 11th.

3. Those winning entries are then sent to me. I will select three finalists by April 13th at 5 pm.

4. The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. They must have those videos to me by 5 pm on April 20th.

5. I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting April 25th with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday April 29th.

6. The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck! Who knew failing could be this good?