There’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering — Elon Musk

As Elon’s quote implies, a lack of failure isn’t success. It’s just optimizing the wrong thing. Rather than protect against failure, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it. 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 13th 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 time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: 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. It needs to be genuine; people can spot a fish story a mile way.
  • 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. About a year 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:

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 p.m. on Friday, April 6. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. It’s a moderated board, I Have to Accept It before you will see it.

You have to get me your written entry by April 6 at 5 p.m.  I will notify you if you are a finalist by Monday, April 9 at 5 p.m.

The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. Those videos must be sent to me by 5 p.m. on April 16.

I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting April 17 and a vote by everyone reading my blog will determine the winner Friday, April 20.  The vote will close at 5 p.m.

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