The Failure Syndrome


The Millennial Career Dilemma Series – Article 23; By Shubika Bilkha



The word ‘failure’ in itself for all of us excellence seekers is often quite cringe worthy and best avoided rather than acknowledged. As an entrepreneur I learned that successes and failures were a part of my daily routine. I had in fact once suggested the failure outlook to my team in my previous role, who looked at me completely aghast at the harshness of the thought that anything they did could possibly equate to ‘failing’.


It is of course our natural tendency to document achievements and mop up anything sub-par.


However, if the meme world is to be relied on for advice, then if we we are not failing how are we learning and progressing?


In 2010, University of Edinburgh lecturer Melanie Stefan started a trend where she published her ‘CV of Failures’. The rationale was that by showcasing her shortcomings she could help others who were maybe experiencing setbacks of their own. Johannes Haushofer a professor at Princeton University further continued this trend where he included his ‘CV of failures’ on his website that highlighted research funding he didn’t get, degree programs he didn’t get into and so on. His thought was that most people attribute failures to themselves as others shortcomings are usually far less visible than their accomplishments.


The Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) at Stanford University encourages students to maintain a failure resume that documents their biggest ‘screw ups’ and update it throughout the course of their lives. According to their website, failures force us to come to terms with the mistakes we have made along the way and extract important lessons from them. They further state that failures are a sign that you have taken on challenges and reduce the chances of repeat mistakes.


In fact, a School of Life program that I attended in London last year suggested that accepting failure and disappointment each day would result in long-term contentment and expectation management.


As a millennial career and leadership coach, I find that the ‘fear of failure’ seems to be one of the biggest challenges that our young leaders need to overcome. The basis of self-confidence issues, self-esteem issues, stress, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, avoidance, control and intimacy issues that I see on a near daily basis can be attributed to the fundamental fear of not meeting up to expectations. And a consequent rejection as a result of that ‘failure’. In fact, it is one of the biggest blockages that I see in millennial and Gen Z executives and leaders that hampers their progress.


As a millennial career seeker, how could you then own your space of shortcomings and ‘do failure’ better to enhance your life and performance:


Tell a Different Story

In a constantly evolving competitive world, acknowledging what didn’t work and the lessons you learned could differentiate you at an interview, a performance review or even on a date. Craft a failure story for your success!



Authenticity v/s Too Much Info (TMI)

It is important that we document failures productively as we look to make a shift or a constructive change in our lives. Maintaining that fine line between staying authentic and over-sharing is key for maximum impact.


 Spot a Trend

Reviewing your trend of failures can be a powerful tool to understand patterns that may have developed and that maybe hurdles in your path to success. Seeing them for yourself could be just what you need to make that jump.


Get Self-Aware

Documenting our shortcomings is one way of acknowledging and accepting the role that you have played in the process. Awareness is the first step to progress.


Upgrade Yourself

Visualizing our failures and increasing our self-awareness enables us to constantly learn and grow as individuals. Knock down those shortcomings with a self-upgrade!


For more information on Edpower-U’s Career Coaching and Workplace skill building programs please visit us on



About the Author


Shubika Bilkha is currently the Founding Partner of Edpower-U. She is a dynamic entrepreneur, trained executive coach, media spokesperson, author and corporate advisor with experience that spansthe financial, technology, ecommerce, education and real estate sectors in India and Internationally. As the managing Director of two early stage start-ups in technology and education, Shubika has hands on experience in all aspects of these businesses. She was recently the Managing Director of a leading vocational training institute in India and has worked with a number of leaders across industry, government and the educational ecosystem in India and the UK.


She is also a published author with her first book widely distributed. Shubika is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, USA and Columbia Business School, USA; an Associate Member of the Chartered Securities Institute (CSI) in the UK; and has completed the “Building Excellence in Higher Educational Institutions” at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. She is a trained Executive Coach with CTI, UK in line with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) ACC guidelines.



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