Wrongly wronged

“There is no ‘try’,” said Yoda, and to some extent we have followed what we thought was the advice of the wizened Jedi Master: things we tried, but couldn’t get to work, will not be mentioned if we can possibly help it.

We may be doing it wrong:

A Princeton psychology professor has come up with a way to show people that that their “invisible” failures and setbacks are as important as their successes.

Johannes Haushofer, a Princeton professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, posted a CV of failures in an attempt to “balance the record” and “provide some perspective.” He was inspired by a 2010 Nature article by Melanie Stefan, a lecturer at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. She suggested that keeping a visible record of your rejected applications can help others to deal with setbacks.

The document is divided in six parts including: “Degree programs I did not get into,” “Academic positions and fellowships I did not get,” “Research funding I did not get” among others.

At the very least, this practice would fill in any perceived gaps in one’s own CV: if you have one entry every four or five years, some people will think you haven’t been doing anything between entries. Still, approve, Yoda would not.


  1. Mac »

    1 May 2016 · 8:53 am

    Try, but don’t announce that “trying” is what you’ll do, because “try” is what it’s called after you fail. Then you can say, “I tried” and walk away, content with the failure.

    What Yoda was telling Luke was to get his mind right first. He had invaded Yoda’s home and cajoled him to train Luke, and here was this snot-nosed kid setting himself up to fail.

    So Luke tried and failed, and Yoda used the failure as a lesson. And then Luke succeeded.

  2. fillyjonk »

    1 May 2016 · 12:05 pm

    I don’t need to remind myself of my failures by writing a CV of it. Ugh. I wake up at 2 am enough nights and wind up thinking about them without having them as a bulleted list.

    (Also, some failures, at least in the funding/publishing arena, may be more “the timing was bad” or “you submitted to the wrong place” rather than “the work you did was bad.” For that matter, I have had a few SUCCESSES that left me scratching my head, as in “I didn’t think this was good enough to get funded/published/whatever”)

  3. ETat »

    1 May 2016 · 2:50 pm

    That only works if list of your achievements is more impressive than CV composed of failures

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