Looking back at his early political career, Barack Obama reflected:
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working.”
Unfortunately, failure does happen, and sometimes it happens in relation to things we really care about. When it does, we can always ask: what is the next best thing we could do?
Obama decided that, for him, it was to stop worrying whether he was succeeding or failing and focus on the work ahead. This seems to have helped, and 10 years later he was elected as the first African American President of the United States. He followed this up four years later with re-election for a second Presidential term in 2013.
While most students will hopefully feel pretty good after the release of end of year results, it’s to be expected that some will not. If you find yourself in that position, I really want to encourage that there are things you can positively do.
In working out what that ‘next best thing’ actually is, here are three pieces of advice:
- Deal with the feels: take time out to manage whatever you’re feeling, whether it’s disappointment or frustration or annoyance. Failure can suck, so do positive things for yourself to offset that. Spend time with friends and whānau, get outdoors, watch your favourite Netflix series…
- Evaluate the situation: instead of putting it out of mind, put a detective hat on and assess what might have gone wrong. Did you put in enough study and preparation? Did you misread the exam and give answers that didn’t address the questions? Were you running at less than 100% due to circumstances out of your control, like sickness or a breakup? Did you ask your lecturers and tutors enough questions?
- Make a plan of action: having come up with a list, you now need to take practical action. What could you control or do differently next time? What extra steps could you take or put in place? You might find it really helpful to talk with support staff for their advice – they can offer objective, honest suggestions to help.
Want to know more about fear of failure? There’s lots to it – check out more info here.
Kairuruku Oranga | Wellbeing Coordinator