Is Failure Really a Thing?

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen, 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 15th 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 Monday Oct. 7th. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. I Have to Accept It

A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider. I will then select three finalists by Oct. 11th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to participate in a podcast on Failure and whether it’s really a thing on Wednesday Oct. 16th. There you will be able to tell your story and participate in a discussion about the value of failure. Listeners will then be directed to a website where they can vote for the winner. Voting will close at 5 pm on Monday Oct. 21st.

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!

54 thoughts on “Is Failure Really a Thing?

  1. As an 18 year old coming into UCF I felt as if I was on top of the world. I was entering college on an athletic scholarship and before my freshman year even began I had a group of individuals around me that felt like a family. Being on the UCF cheerleading team made me feel as if I had purpose and as if I was in some way ‘important’. This was a dream of mine for so long. UCF cheerleading was something that many wanted but few got the opportunity to be apart of. I was one of the few. The egotistical side of me felt on top of the world. The reality of this responsibility soon came crashing down on me, however.

    I soon realized that balancing school, athletics, work and a social life was a task in which I underestimated. It was frowned upon if you didn’t attend cheerleading sessions in your free time, on top of practice five days a week, and football, basketball and volleyball games. It was also frowned upon if your grades weren’t top notch. A social life? You can throw that idea out the window, you get to see your 50 teammates everyday at practice anyways. And don’t even consider the idea of getting a job, balancing that on top of everything would be near impossible. Trying to figure out a healthy balance took a huge toll on my mental health. I did day to day life just going through the motions. But, the notion of being able to tell people that I was a UCF cheerleader was enough to make me push through and remain a part of the team.

    At the time I didn’t realize just how unhappy I was. Looking back I can see now how resentment consumed me. I developed a bad attitude, which is something I’m not proud of. I was always known as the girl who was always smiling and always happy but somewhere along the way I lost that positivity. As a naive 18-20 year old I believed that I was adequately hiding my unhappiness. That was not the case. But my ego persisted and I showed back up for cheer tryouts again my sophomore year. At this point the allure of being a college cheerleader was almost gone. I felt as if I deserved more opportunities than I was receiving and my resentment compounded. Another year of just going through the motions. Year three rolled around and I showed back up to cheer tryouts even though I knew Imwanted to be anywhere else. I didn’t know who I was or who I could be without that silly title that I always led my introductions with. When first cuts rolled around and I didn’t see my number on that list my first feeling was instant relief. And then I saw all of my friends crying because I would no longer be on the team with them and it all crashed down upon me.

    I felt anger. I felt regret. I felt lost. Most of all I felt like a failure.

    How could they do this to me, you don’t cut someone who’s an upcoming junior with two years of experience? I had so much talent, how could they let me go so easily? Why did I not put more effort in? If only I had spent my nights in the gym like some of my other teammates maybe there would have been a different outcome? Will my friends still be my friend even though I’m no longer apart of that tight-knit group that spends all of their time together? How am I going to get through this? I was clueless as to what to do next.

    It took a good amount of time but eventually I overcame the adversity. I got through it and I became a better person because of it. I realized that there is so much more value within a person than the meaninglessness of a title. I learned to value myself. I gained a confidence in myself, knowing that my morals, integrity and values were more than enough. I began to understand that I didn’t need to have a title in front of my name in order for other people to see me for the person that I am within. How shallow of me to ever think that calling myself a cheerleader was all that I needed to define myself. My true friends supported me and stood by my side even though my anxiety told me that they would all abandon me and that I would have to start from scratch as a junior.

    One of my favorite takeaways was learning the principle of accountability. I was so quick to blame the coaches for my own inaction. I was so quick to blame former teammates for potentially telling the coaches how uninvested I felt in the team, causing them to let me go. I did a lot of self reflection after the initial emotions wore off. I stopped blaming others and reflected on my own actions that led to this particular outcome. There was no one to blame other than myself. I gained self respect and made a promise to myself that if I am ever unhappy in a situation again it is my responsibility and duty to myself to remove myself from something that is negatively impacting me. I grew. I matured. And I am so proud of myself.

    While on the team I chose a major that I believed was “easy” so that I could balance being a full time student athlete and ‘just slide by’. Once I was removed from that situation I decided to challenge myself. I changed my major to finance although I had always believed that I was horrible at math. I became passionate about school. I worked harder than I ever had in order to be accepted into the finance program. And let me tell you, I am so proud of myself. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be studying finance I would have said that they were out of their mind. I realized that nothing is outside of the realm of possibility if you combine effort with passion.

    I made lifelong friends in my classes and bonded with amazing people who I probably would never have met if my coaches hadn’t done me the favor of letting me go. I am now grateful that they did that for me because I wouldn’t have done it for myself. I traveled to Thailand, I bought a dog and I became someone I never would have became if I hadn’t failed at being a student athlete. Sometimes talking about it is still a touchy subject for me. Occasionally what-if questions still pop into my mind. I definitely never thought I would be writing about this on a public platform, but it was a life changing experience that helped me grow as a person. The outcome could have turned out differently if I had let it debilitate me. Instead, I let myself feel all of the feelings that consumed me and then I allowed it to teach me valuable life lessons that will follow me through adulthood and stay with me for the rest of my life. I am confident now that I can get past any obstacles or curveballs that stand in my way. I will forever embrace failure. I know now that it is a necessary part of life that teaches life lessons you would never known otherwise. The best thing that ever happened to me was failure.

    Jordan Musa
    SBU Section 13
    Christopher Leo

  2. Something that you might look at and think is a failure might not actually be that from other peoples perspective. This is what I experienced just this past month when I was the best man in my best friends wedding. Before we get to the failure portion here’s a little background information. I first met my best friend while working at my current job and instantly we hit it off. We both have the same personality, love to crack jokes and just like to go with the flow. It is probably safe to say that I think of him more like a brother than I do as a friend. Last year he got engaged to his current wife, and not long after he asked me to be his best man. This was such an honor for me since he has cousins and friends that he’s grown up with since they were children. Everyone has a pretty good idea of the different responsibilities that comes with being the best man, for example the best man speech that is to be given during the reception. This one responsiblity had me absolutely terrified. Growing up I have never enjoyed having to give any kind of presentation or speech, and to this day I still do not enjoy having to do them. Funny thing is, I do not mind meeting new people and having conversations with them one on one or in a small group setting, but as soon as I get up in front of a big group of peers that all changes. My hands start to sweat, voice starts to become shaky, and I start using the word “umm” a lot. Knowing this about myself, I started writing and practicing the speech months in advance. When it came down to the day of the wedding and reception I was sweating bullets. All the hard work and practice that I did went right out the window. I used way to many filler words, my voice was shaky and my voice to me was very soft. To me I failed giving the speech, and failed my best friend and his wife by not making the speech as flawless as it should have been. Later that night though, lots of his friends and family came up and said how much they loved the speech and that I did a wonderful job. So in a way, it was not so much of a failure but more of a life lesson. I realized that I might hold myself to a higher standard, so something I might have done poorly in my mind actually was not bad to others.

    Jalen Ortiz
    Dr. Christopher Leo
    SBU Section 15

  3. My failure is Fear! I have worked in the financial industry for 15 years and I have come be to very versed in tens of savings and loans. My expertise allows me to have very detailed and fun conversations with leaders in the financial industry. One day I worked hard to help a gentleman while considering to finance his vehicle. These conversation led to us learning that we had a lot in common, as he was an alumni of UCF. I briefly told him that I was finishing my B.S degree, he invited me to “use” him. Meaning he was happy to lend his expertise and allow me to conduct an informational interview for my GED a class requirements which was also be helpful in my career. I was invited to coffee to meet him in person for the informational interview I learned so much including we had a previous employer in common, he was apart of taking VISA public, headed bank mergers, now VP of another bank on the west coast . He asked me was I happy in my position and if I would consider a position at the bank he worked out… I was in shock, and fear kicked in, fear put me in flight mode. Immediately my response was “I will think about it.” I kick myself to this day, what was I thinking about? I hadn’t asked him about the position he was offering. I left that meeting not know what, when or how. I my potential career on the table, not knowing how I would ever circle back to ask him to revisit the topic. I am was embarrassed to the core after leaving. Fear was my failure, fear will not hold me back again!

  4. Tommy Pastor – Business Management
    Failure Scholarship Essay

    One thing I pride myself on is time management. I always enjoy being proactive and getting things out of the way. I am currently taking 5 classes. I serve as a Resident Assistant at the UnionWest Downtown Campus. I am a brother of Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed business professional fraternity. I am a justice in Student Government. I am the Marketing Director for Volunteer UCF.

    I am able to do it all because I have a passion and drive to serve others and make a difference in the community. When you truly care and want to do something, you find the time.

    I wanted to apply for this scholarship opportunity as it is something I have done in the past. I just heard that today was the last day to apply from a friend 15 minutes ago and that this scholarship opportunity ended at 5pm.

    I knew I had to least try, because I am the type of person who takes advantage of every open door and opportunity. But as you can see, I failed to meet the deadline because I heard about the opportunity as the deadline passed.

    Even if nothing comes from this, I believe there is still so much to take away and learn from this.

    If there is anything I learned from this experience, it would be to learn from your mistakes. Learn to do better next time. Learn how to be more updated and on top of opportunities because they are always all around you. And keep striving for excellence in all

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