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  • Writer's pictureJessica

I Gave a Bad Haircut: What I Learned about Failure

Updated: May 3

A man is in profile on the left side of this image. He is wearing glasses and a grey tank top. His hair is shaved to the root approximately one inch above his ears. On top of his head, his hair is in varying lengths and patchy. The right side of this image shows the same man with his back turned. His hair looks tidy and recently cut.
A man is in profile on the left side of this image. He is wearing glasses and a grey tank top. His hair is shaved to the root approximately one inch above his ears. On top of his head, his hair is in varying lengths and patchy. The right side of this image shows the same man with his back turned. His hair looks tidy and recently cut.

As we close out 2023, I am getting around to writing a long-overdue blog post. It's been hard to write because it's about failure. No one likes failing. It's embarrassing and painful.


In our culture, there's a sad and scary celebration of women who appear effortlessly perfect. For years, I subjected myself to aiming high and being unwilling to accept less-than-amazing results. I'm not going to lie: I still struggle with this.


COVID cut

My journey in haircutting has helped me explore failure and learn from it. It started in the spring of 2020 when my partner, Jason, needed a haircut and the province was in lockdown. The result is visible on the left side of this article's accompanying image. It was bad.


My tools for that first cut: Jason's electric razor with one setting and a pair of standard office scissors.


I imagined that I would shave the back of Jason's head, trim the front and top, and blend the longer and shorter hair by holding the scissors sideways. When I was done, there were two options: shave all of his hair off or keep the bad haircut as-is.


We were stuck at home; I had just gotten furloughed; Jason worked on Zoom and thought his unintentional hairstyle would get a few laughs. So, he rocked his COVID cut. His colleagues and our families had a giggle every time he appeared on screen, and eventually, the hair grew back.


Over the last three-and-a-half years, I've been Jason's primary hairstylist. And over time, I got better and my handwork from last weekend can be seen on the right side of this article's accompanying image. I accepted my initial failure and learned from it.


Here are my key takeaways from haircutting failures that apply to learning any new skill:


  1. Have the right tools: Working with the right equipment is critical. Shortly after that first cut, we purchased a hair clipper that included guides of different lengths that made blending much easier. More recently, I got haircutting scissors that are sharper than office scissors. This means less pulling my Jason's hair as I snip.

  2. Prepare with learning and inquiry: I watched a few YouTube videos on cutting short curly hair. They provided some good rules of thumb and recommended another tool to guide the razor and scissors: a comb!

  3. Practice with patience: Every time I cut Jason's hair, I approach it with the opportunity to improve a particular skill. Usually, this is on blending, but I've also focused practice on a cleaner or more even neckline. I'm always talking about continuous improvement with volunteer engagement and haircutting is another great skill to practice this value.

  4. Be prepared to fail again: Things have gone wrong during haircuts- even recently! There was the time I took out a chunk of Jason's hair (and maybe even some of his skin) because I got distracted with our haircutting playlist. There were many times when the haircut was lopsided and I needed to re-trim.

Because I am not a professional barber, and my subject is good-natured, I've been kind to myself about my haircutting failures. Moving forward, I'd like to be kinder to myself around failures in other areas of my life. After all, I'm a human, not a robot.



Thanks for reading! Like this post and want to buy me a coffee? Please visit https://buymeacoffee.com/learnwithjpp


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