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Learn, fail and get better at it

This week I attended the IoD’s Annual Convention. I work with the IoD two days a week so it was a work gig, but nonetheless I had the opportunity to listen to quite a few speakers over the course of the day. The one that struck a chord with me was the irrepressible Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi. Apart from the sheer energy of the man, one can always tell the ‘creative-types’ when they come a stage – particularly when the stage is of a business setting. Aside from what they say, it’s the exuberance and energy with which they communicate. Or perhaps it’s just the passion which you really sense. Whenever I’ve attended these kinds of events, it tends to be the entrepreneurs, the risk-takers, and the creative spirits amid the standard lacklustre speakers who stand out. I felt the same when I watched Tim Smit of the Eden Project.

Anyway, Kevin Roberts presented the audience with one sound-bite after another, and wonderful bold statements like “marketing is dead”, and “what’s really important is that unreasonable creativity thrives, not strategy.” He talked of it being the “age of now”, how “velocity is everything”, and that ROI (return on investment) is the wrong question; instead you should be thinking of “return on involvement”. You can imagine how a few feathers might be slightly ruffled by those comments, but the one statement, or mantra he’s known for is: “Fail fast. Learn Fast. Fix Fast.” I had this on my work wall for quite a few years. I love how it tackles the idea that it’s good to make mistakes. We’ve become a culture so driven by success that we fear failure. We must all win, all the time…And it starts now even at primary school where everyone these days gets a sticker for running the egg and spoon race, where you pass the finish line or not. And as we progress through school to further studies and then on to work, many people find themselves in a state of stress or anxiety as their fear of ‘not making it’ or simply failing at the task can often impede their performance. Ironic really.

“There is much to be said for failure. It is much more interesting than success.” Max Beerbohom

It’s clichéd I know, but life is for living and so sometimes, one just has to embrace an idea and opportunity because at the time, it feels right. It may turn out to be a mistake but we only go by what we know or feel at the time right? There are some great video references, which discuss the fear of failure, and a common theme comes through. It’s perfectly human to feel this feeling. But it shouldn’t get in the way of getting on with it, and what’s more, doing lots of ‘getting on with it’ is a good thing. Keep at it. Keep doing. Again. And again. Because that’s where the learning comes in. And from those lessons, you improve and get better.

“Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” David Frost

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