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2023 It's Time To Embrace

2023: It's time to embrace your inner failure

In this article, our CEO David Lewis shares his love of failure and how accepting it has been a steppingstone towards success.

I am a failure. I have failed as a CEO, failed as a designer, failed as a student, failed as a father, failed as a son, failed as the under 18 Hawick Albion RFC winger against Stirling Country 1990 (they were a good team). 

But wouldn’t life be boring if we were all perfect and we nailed everything we did first time? A world where everything was complete and there was no ‘what if’, ‘how about’ or ‘let’s try this’? For one thing, I am sure this computer wouldn’t be here. And we might still be offering leeches as the cure for the common cold.

How we have evolved as a species has been achieved by failure, followed by more failure, followed by success. Sometimes the successes we achieve end up as a barrier to progress, whilst the failures take us on leaps and bounds. I love Bill Bryson’s take on the world in his book ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’.

“If this book has a lesson, it is that we are awfully lucky to be here-and by 'we' I mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp.”

Making things better is an amazing attribute to have as individuals. We are often driven by a need to make our life better, make our relationships better, even make an Under 18 Hawick Albion RFC winger a little better. But to be better we must firstly fail and it's this failure that we need to appreciate as a valuable stepping stone to success.

It is often easy to celebrate success. The £2 lottery win, the DIY project that you nailed or even the chat-up line that actually worked! We all bask in these glories. However, they often become the end of the journey. Completed. Nailed-it. Job done! You’ve gained £2, so you go spend it on another lottery ticket. You finish the DIY project and put your feet up. You marry the chat-up line recipient and you’re sorted for life!

But it is a completely different mindset to celebrate failure. If you haven’t read ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed, I would thoroughly recommend you do. He retells the story of meeting James Dyson. Dyson defines his success not by what he achieved, but his aptitude to continue to fail and fail again. In fact, Dyson states that he wasn't the first person to patent the cyclone vacuum cleaner, two people had come up with the idea before him. The difference between the three was that the other two gave-up after they had made their first patent. Dyson on the other hand went on to produce over 2,500 prototypes and patents to make the Cyclone what it is today. Apparently, he’s still not fully happy with it!

Failure is a by-product of change. But change drives progress and progress drives business growth. It’s a strange calculation and one that many people and businesses would be scared stiff to start. Why would you want to start on failure, why can’t we start on success and go forward from there? Maybe because we would never move forward with any great pace, life would be boring, and we would all be dull robots.

So this year, let’s accept failure as a steppingstone to success. Be open to change, open to failure, be vulnerable and welcome comment and challenge into your world. Go on - be a great failure!

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About the author

David has a huge experience in helping clients deliver marketing solutions in: utilities, arts & culture, financial services and fashion. It is his goal to work with marketing directors and senior marketing managers to increase the effectiveness of their businesses, through strategic delivery of impactful creative and technical solutions that are measurable and achieve excellent ROI.

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