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CV of failures professor Johannes Haushofer on what success really means

The professor said he is not sure that failures are as important as achievements

Zlata Rodionova
Wednesday 04 May 2016 15:02 BST
Haushofer's "CV of Failures" was shared more than 700 times on Twitter
Haushofer's "CV of Failures" was shared more than 700 times on Twitter

Johannes Haushofer, the Princeton psychology professor whose CV of failures received an overwhelmingly positive reaction online, has said he doesn't think it is necessary to fail in order to succeed.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the professor said he is not sure that setbacks are as important as achievements.

“I do think we learn from failures, but I’m not convinced anyone would be worse off if they didn’t have any,” Haushofer said.

Haushofer, a Prize fellow in Economics at Harvard who has been working at Princeton for two years, said he was “very surprised” by the reaction the resume has received online, especially from students and other young researchers.

“The reception suggests to me we need new tools to help all of us deal with the pressure of academia,” he told the Independent.

His CV of failures 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.

“I’m hoping that it will be a source of perspective at times when things aren’t going well, especially for student and my fellow young researchers,” he said.

Haushofer’s post was shared 770 times on Twitter, liked more than 700 times and republished in many UK and US national publications.

Despite this incredible response, Haushofer said he just wants to get back to his day job.

(Johannes Haushofer(Princeton) (Johannes Haushofer(Princeton))

The CV of failures idea grew so popular that Haushofer included it in his own resume as a “meta-failure”.

“I think the CV has reached its intended audience, namely students and other young researchers, and I’m very impatient to get back to my academic work, so I don’t think that I will follow up in any significant way. I have always been interested in the conversation around mental health in academia, and will follow it with greater attention now," Haushofer said.

“This darn CV of failures has received way more attention than my entire body of academic work,” the professor previously said in a Tweet.

Haushofer current academic work asks whether poverty has psychological consequences and whether these, in turn, have disadvantageous effects on decision-making. He is working with a team on conducting studies in Kenya and the US to better understand this relationship.

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