1. Identify something significant you failed at in your personal or professional life. It can be anything from a marriage to a job. Be specific. Summarize the failure in a sentence, and use the word “fail.”
2. Describe how you felt about the failure right after it happened. Did you blame others? Did you act as though the world had ended? Did you question your ability or intelligence?
3. Move forward in time. In hindsight, list any positive results from the failure. Use these categories: skills you acquired, lessons you learned and relationships you established.
4. Determine how the failure changed you. Specify traits, skills or attitudes you developed. Paint a before-and-after portrait of yourself, and try to discern whether the “after” picture portrays a wiser, more mature person.
— Adapted from David L. Dotlich, James L. Noel, Norman Walker, Jossey-Bass. Passages,
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