How Do You Respond To Failure?

I've been in the process of becoming an Enrolled Agent in order to have the ability to represent our clients before the Internal Revenue Service. The process involves passing three sections of a test called the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). I started the process in February, with the three test sections scheduled on 2/14, 2/21 and 2/25. I passed the first and third sections, but the second was postponed due to a big snowstorm in Kansas City.


Because the tests aren't offered during March and April, they couldn’t reschedule until May 1. I was thankful for the extra time to study because I felt this section, which covered all aspects of Business Taxation, would be the most difficult for me.

I used free online practice tests to help me study and the results had been good for the first two sections I had taken, so I felt pretty confident as I went to take this final section of the SEE.

However, as soon as I began, that confidence disappeared because the first several questions were on material which hadn’t been covered in the practice tests!

When I finished the test, I felt ok about my effort, but sadly I didn't pass.

I was pretty discouraged because it meant I couldn’t apply to become licensed as an Enrolled Agent yet. I sent my daughter a text to tell her the bad news. She texted back that she was sorry to hear the news, but then asked if I could take the test again. (Yes, I could!)

I also met a friend for lunch right after the test and told her how disappointed I was about failing. She joked by saying that this was probably the first test I'd ever failed. Well, it wasn’t the first test I had failed, but it was the first one in a really long time.

Those two interactions helped me begin to look at my "failure" in a new light. Failure is a part of business and a part of life. The important thing is how you learn from failure and how you use those lessons to better approach the next challenge that life brings your way.

For me, I spent extra time studying the material so I would be as prepared as possible for the next time I took the test.

The good news? I passed the test on June 5th and am now an Enrolled Agent!