MBA essay tips for writing about your setback/failures and the lessons learned

Everyone would prefer sharing achievement stories rather than discussing failures. Our achievements speak for themselves, but our setbacks also reflect many important aspects of our life. Primarily by asking these kind of questions the MBA admission committee wants to know about your resilience, how you perceive failures and have you been able to learn from your failures. No one in this world is perfect, and failures provide unique opportunity to identify one`s areas of improvement. The admission committee is not interested in judging your mistakes; they simply want to know how tactfully you dealt with it. 

For this essay peep into that failure corner of your life which has indeed inspired you to transform a small portion of you and present it as an event to depict how you have improved personally and professionally. Your failure story should not necessarily reflect your negative traits but it should show that at least you tried something with some planning and fair understanding of consequences. Now, what you should be concerned about is, what failure story of yours should you include in your essay? Choose a story where your failure must have resulted from good intentions such as leadership, initiative and risk taking attitude. You took an initiative, but it did not result in success. You need to explicate the advantage of the fact that failure too teaches you something good. If one is honest enough in one`s intentions, people will forget the mistakes one made; rather they will remember one`s efforts and good intentions over the result. Show that you are resilient and you have learned quite a good lesson from your mistake and you are enough confident how to deal with such incidents in the future.

To answer this question you need to recall a failure experience that had created a significant difference in your thought process. Try to exemplify the value of the development by quoting how the learning from the failure helped you to succeed later. This essay gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, flexibility and leadership qualities. Leaders are not people who are always successful, rather they are people who are willing to admit to failure and learn from the difficulty. As you narrate your failure, you should also essentially demonstrate what you have learned, as concretely as possible. Your story should not only limit on your setbacks and the reasons behind your failure, but your intentions and initiatives behind it should clearly be evident to the admission people. Show that you have learned from your failure was quite a good lesson and it helped you shape your developmental process.

A recent incident would be good to choose, as the memory would be still fresh. Put on your thinking cap and recall some of the new traits you have picked up over the last few years, and imply it to your story. You can delineate personal, professional or any extra-curricular experiences that you consider as eye opening event. Whatever experience you narrate, do remember that it should have helped you in developing new skills or crafting your vision for your life. Do not choose anything overly dramatic or that would call your morals into question. The reader should be able to relate to your failure, not be surprised by it. If you think that you cannot clearly state what you learned from the incident or the actions that you took to amend it, then pick something else. When you are writing, take a simple, straightforward, objective tone. Do not try to excuse your actions. Let your story speak for itself. 

SAR framework (Situation, Action and Result) is the best structure to present this kind of event. Please include the following elements to your answer.

Situation: What was the situation/occasion/event? How you arrived at that?

Action: What was your action? Did you take any initiative? Did you take any risk? Discuss how you calculated the risk and risk appetite.

Result: What was the outcome of your action? Mention what was the expected result and what was actual outcome. Discuss why you consider this as a setback and what negative effect it had on you or your career or organisation. Conclude with what you did to mitigate the situation. Discuss how you showed resilience? Do mention the key learnings from the experience and how it has helped you or shaped you. 

Hope you liked this article. Please click
to encourage us. Thank you.


What stops You?

Try our services with our Trial Package, at just $25. We are confident that, after the trial you will love our services.


Any one essay, 500 words, single round reviewing with detailed feedback for improvement, no editing.