Will failure define you or propel you?

The Internet is full of people talking about failure. Whereas some use the term fail often or even fail more, others seem to resent the term failure as some kind of weakness or a sign people accept that it is okay to fail.

Now although I understand where both sides are coming from I feel the focus is in the wrong area. I have personally experienced both sides of this coin first hand when working around the world.

In my career, I worked for American companies on global teams and handled the Middle East region where the thinking around failure was simply a learning process, a stepping stone if, and this is the main point; if you acquired experience or bounced back from failure stronger. People admired this or celebrated your achievement and strength. In the UK however, things are very different.

In the UK people get very nervous if you say you had any failure in your career. Whether this was a business or a position you may have held, it is shunned and brushed under the carpet as if that experience defines you as a person, as in you are a failure! This is regardless of what you achieved after that experience.

I have, like everyone, had very dark moments in my personal and professional life and although they were frightening and even life-threatening at times I can tell you the person I came out the other side of each one of these moments is a stronger, more knowledgeable and experienced individual. These moments are not something you can learn on a course or in a book you have to go through them to gain experience that you have to use in the next part of your life. Failure is a single moment, something that is temporary if you have the right attitude or defeat if you allow it.

And this really is the key for me regarding failure, it is not whether a failure is something that should be shunned, hidden or even celebrated. It is the action that follows failure that is what defines us, it is what we do with that experience, hurt and even pain after a failure that is where the whole discussion should be focused. Because after failure, you have a choice to either believe you have a limit of what you can achieve in this life, or you learn from the experience and use it to propel yourself to greatness!

Dreams don’t work unless you do

Every single one of us has dreams we want to achieve. Some are big and some are small but inside us we crave to that success or break to get ahead. People often look at successful people and think they are lucky or have had a break to get where they are but the truth couldn’t be further from that as anyone who is successful has put in the work, driven by their dreams to get those opportunities and I guarantee it was not a straight road they took.

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work with very talented people, some a lot more talented than me. The most frustrating thing I saw though is when this talent was not matched with the effort to take these individuals where they could go in their career.

Personally I never looked at the individuals in my office or the country I was working in at the time, but rather I would look at the very best in my industry and aimed to be as good as them. Knowing that these people were world class creative or strategist I knew I had to work twice as hard to get anywhere near them in my career. So that is what I have always done.

So whatever dreams you have in your career or life it’s time to stop waiting for it to happen and start putting the effort in that will carry you through the a better life. Don’t get caught up in the small things that happen in your home, your office or with your friends. Don’t even be put off if things don’t go the direction you want either. Sometimes your road will lead you to a better place where more opportunities lay ahead.

You are the only person that can create change in your life and if you want it enough you will have to put that extra effort in to get it. Try thinking and visualizing of that moment when you have achieved a dream and then ask yourself, ‘what am I willing to do to make this happen, to have this feeling and to experience that incredible joy of achieving your dream.’ It’s okay to daydream about these moments; in fact I recommend it as it helps build that drive.

No matter where you are in life, no matter how many things have not gone your way, you can still start on that journey today to achieving your dreams. I have had more than my fair share of bad luck, wrong choices and missed opportunities along my journey but this hasn’t dulled my ambition one single bit, in fact I’m just getting started…And so should you!


Grip that steering wheel of life, put on your seat belt and push down the accelerator pedal, hard!

Have you ever had the feeling that your life could be compared to sitting in a car driving at top speed going round bends, over bumps and squeezing between other cars yet you don’t feel you even have control of the steering wheel?

This is a feeling that I think we all go through at times. Sometimes the drive is exhilarating, enjoyable and fun, a roof down, and wind in your hair dream drive. Other times, it can be terrifying, painful and you are just waiting for a mighty thump of everything to come crashing down around you.

Almost every person I meet seems to have this look that they are hanging on by their fingernails and if just one thing would work out everything would be okay, it would give them a pause to breath, to possibly enjoy the ride.

The journey we all take is never a single straight road and can be compared to a long distance journey filled with country lanes, motorways and busy city streets. Not forgetting that along this journey there are always bumps in the road, bends that are hard to navigate and more than once you will end up going down a dead end street and have to turn back and start a section all over again.

All these mishaps and challenges often feel like the end of the world or that you feel the road is just doing everything it can to make the journey as difficult as possible. But once we get past those various obstacles we realise there is a difference in how we approach the next challenge, and the next and so on. Looking back down the road we usually tell stories about the bumps in the road and the near misses as anecdotal snippets amongst friends.

Most of the time they will bring a smile to your face as you realise how much you’ve grown, learned and developed. Not always, but sometimes! So take heart where you are on this journey and see how much you’ve travelled as a person. One way or another you have grown so much and no matter what life hurled at you, you just kept moving forward.

So grip that steering wheel of life, put on your seat belt and push down the accelerator pedal, hard! Take on the next challenge with confidence and give it everything you’ve got. Nothing has stopped you, no matter what you have faced, you are here right now in life a better person, so fear nothing, and look down the road to a better, happier you because great things could be waiting just around the corner.



Don’t let anything stop you from having a voice in this world

We live in a world where our opinion is communicated to a global audience through social media. Sometimes what we are trying to say and what is interpreted can be taken in the wrong way, but that starts a conversation which is a key aspect to building relationships, whether as an individual or as a brand.

What brands are looking for when posting online is to engage with customers. But triggering conversation depends on the brand personality of the company. Some are approachable and friendly, others can be irreverent and opinionated. It all depends on what the strategy is for that brand. The worse thing any brand can be is stuck in the middle or what is often called vanilla, just plain and uninteresting.

Having an opinion as an individual is what defines you and helps shape your own personal brand. No matter what you believe in just say the truth because as they say, it will set you free. Having ideas, thoughts and opinions is something we all internalise but not everyone is able to articulate them in the way they would like.

Take Seth Godin for example, the man can communicate powerful strategies and thoughts in very few words. But the key thing about this is it takes time. Seth didn’t start out being able to direct everything in front of him and communicate his ideas as clearly as he does now, no one does. It takes time to formulate ideas into simple language or explanations. I’m pretty sure the words he posts are not the first ones he writes either!

In advertising most of the work you see which is beautifully art directed and crafted has gone through countless rounds of shortening, sharpening and development to get the communication down to a core truth or promise. Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, once wrote a letter and at the end wrote, “I apologise for the length of this letter, if I had more time I would have made it shorter.”

I love that quote because today we do things at a hundred miles an hour but this shouldn’t deter you from giving your opinion and letting your voice be heard. Even if you are criticised by someone, keep going. Everyone has been criticised or attached at some point in their life, the trick is the ones you listen to and respect now ignored those comments and continued to work on getting their voice heard.

You have a voice in this world and there are people who want to hear your opinions. You may even help someone that is going through an experience you once faced. Fear stops us doing so many things, but you you need to start somewhere and every great journey starts with a single step forward. Have faith in yourself and start crafting your voice, no matter how long it takes, you will get to a point that it comes easier and articulated sharper, but remember to enjoy the journey you have as it will be exhilarating whilst lightening the load of thoughts that often weigh heavily on our mind when left unspoken.



How much time do you waste worrying about nothing?

Maybe I am different, maybe it’s just the way my mind works or maybe everyone is like me but they manage to hide it better. In my career as a Regional Creative Director and other management positions much of my time has been spent helping individuals through the process of their daily challenges with a particular project or task. Often the work related issues we started with seemed to always drift away from the project and I found myself delving into the minds of people, with the strange feeling of my role becoming one of a psychiatrist.

A lack of confidence, problems not even related to the job at hand like bills to pay or trouble at home or even insecurities from people that exuded self-confidence on the outside, but seemed to be an outer shell as fragile as an egg. I always enjoyed encouraging, helping or offering advice but one of the topics I have heard myself say more than most others is ‘what is the point of worrying about it now?’

Every time I said this statement I could almost hear the person inside me screaming, ‘If only you would listen to yourself!’ because I have and still do spend a lot of time worrying about the next presentation, the next bill, the thought there will be a crowd at the restaurant, museum or bar we are visiting. In fact my mind seems to go into overdrive about everything regardless of the size of the task that lies ahead of me.

I know I overthink pretty much everything; this is just the person I am, and that is half the battle. I over analyse every conversation and can spend days after a discussion that I have had with one person, going over every word and trying to understand if there were more meaning that I had misinterpreted or there was a hidden message in what that person said. Don’t get me started about the complexity of thoughts that happen when reviewing emails! Emails are so often misunderstood due to the lack of awareness you have about the tone of the individual writing and also the current mood you are in when receiving the email.

I know I am not alone in this, as I have seen this so often throughout my career with people who were incredibly talented and seemed to be in total control. But how many times have you spent worrying about a presentation, meeting, task, project or whatever only to get to the point of it happening and it not being such a big deal? The amount of stress and worry that we put ourselves under is amazing and clearly not healthy.

The only way I have found to deal with worrying about every little detail is to push myself into more challenging positions well as adding as much work to my schedule as I can possibly handle, so my mind stays focused on the next task at hand and doesn’t go walk about in Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of nightmarish thoughts about what could go wrong!

I know how destructive this can be as well as how this manifests into all areas of my life. Worrying about something doesn’t make it easier and certainly doesn’t help you think clearly about what lies ahead of you, it really is just a waste of time. I’ll try to keep that in mind!

Always do the things you are afraid to do

When I first started work I was extremely shy and the thought of speaking in front of people scared the living daylights out of me. When I was forced to present a few times I turned into a sweaty mess. In fact one time I got so nervous that I ended up having a coughing fit in the middle of a presentation forcing the client to leave the room in order to get me a glass of water. Once I had stopped coughing and choking all over the client I stood red-faced, sweat coming through not only my shirt but also my suit jacket! I could see my boss and colleagues sat wide-eyed wondering if I was going to keel over or finish the presentation.

I looked at the client and just said, ‘See, you have to hire us because we are even prepared to die to get your business!’ The client laughed, nervously, and we eventually won the business.

The only thing I could do at that stage was make a joke out of this surreal experience. But this taught me very quickly that if I can recover from what I was always in fear of experiencing, why did I get myself into this mess?

The truth is presenting to a client can be intimidating and sometimes the stakes are high if you do not win the business. I have gone to presentations knowing if we don’t win the business people in the agency will lose their jobs, that’s pressure! But I pushed myself to present at every opportunity because I knew it was a challenge that I had to get over, not because I enjoy talking in front of people but because it was a fear entrenched in my psyche that stemmed from being afraid of making a mistake.

I have had bad presentations since then, not quite like the first one but they didn’t go well. But the more I did it the more I realised there was nothing to be afraid of. In fact I have gone on to present at conferences around the world with thousands of people and I really do enjoy it. I found a passion that allows me to reach and connect with people all over the world, exchanging ideas, helping people with things I have learned or am passionate about.

I found joy in something because I did something that terrified me and I didn’t allow it to beat me. I faced my fear and it was not that I overcame anything, in truth there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place other than what I had built up in my head. Fear can be paralysing and I am not saying it is easy, it’s not. But I guarantee if I can do it, anyone can.

Is the fear of being wrong holding you back?

We live in a world where perfection is championed and anything less is frowned upon. Whether this is a business idea, our bodies, or just the way we post on social media, we are constantly being judged. Most often than not though the harshest judge of all is ourselves, so why do we do this to ourselves?

We have allowed ourselves to be victims in a world that is paralyzed with getting things wrong, making a mistake or waiting to do anything because we are unable to make it prefect. When did this happen in our world? We reached this point in our history from pushing the boundaries, exploring unchartered seas and experimenting over and over again until we got it right.

Throw off that fear of getting it wrong or not being perfect and a whole new world opens up to you. Understand that the greatest people or those who we see as successful now where not always that way. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and any other icon of our world have always said they didn’t always get it right.

But that is why they did eventually become successful, because they broke away from the pack that were all worrying about making a mistake, being perfect or just petrified that someone would say you got it wrong. Most of the world is living in that state of fear, worried what others, so called friends, might say, think or do if we tried and failed. And let’s be honest most of the world are still unhappy. So you have to ask yourself one question, ‘Do you want a life like most of the world who are unhappy or do you want a life where you are not paralysed by fear?’

What looks like the end could in fact be a brighter beginning

Have you ever had a moment in life when everything seemed to come crashing down? I know I have, on more than one occasion in fact. It is important to remember a single thought; maybe not achieving it was what was supposed to happen.

As tough and often devastating seeing a dream, a goal or a great deal of work simple fade away we often close our eyes and feel sorry for ourselves. We punish ourselves, blame those around us or complain that life is not fair. In reality you only have to look around this world to see what real injustice or an unfair world really looks like.

If you have your health, your friends and family close you, as I am grateful to say I do, then you have everything in this world you need to be happy. If you are happy about this you will be surprised that the universe has a way of bringing other opportunities into your path. The key is having your eyes open to see them.

Just because a life moment has not materialized in the manner you believed it should have doesn’t necessarily mean that that this is the end. Instead of a dead end try to see this moment as a curve in the road, taking you in a slightly different direction. This way you do not grind to a halt in life, but rather gain momentum as experience adds fuel to your passion.

Every experience provides valuable lessons that allow you to move forward if you allow yourself to do so. Each dark moment is followed by opportunity to reshape your world, to pick yourself up and create a life that you want. The tools needed to do so are often found within those dark times in our lives allowing you to grow and move forward. We all have them, but it is those that look forward are the ones who become stronger.

Like mist clearing on a frosty morning we must always keep our eyes open in those darkest moments, even if it is to look through tears, because what often lies ahead are greater opportunities to be happy.

No Matter What You Are Going Through…You Are Not Alone.

We can often find ourselves isolated and alone through a many number of circumstances. Regardless what these circumstances are, because, there are as many as there are different people in this world, we can find ourselves in a dark place wondering where the light may come, if it will come at all.

We see on the news how human beings treat each other in our world today and it sickens us to our very core yet there are hidden tragedies of people facing turmoil alone, often without help or guidance on how to resolve their demons. The list is endless but from eating disorders, self harm, bullying, depression, substance abuse and unfortunately the list goes on and on. We call ourselves civilized but often society turns its back on people, blames them for their problems or simply walks past them consumed with their own daily troubles of paying bills and meeting deadlines.

I have been spending a lot of time over the last year exploring various issues and almost started a non-profit in the Middle East for helping parents and children understand or find information about what to do when a child is bullied, as I felt not enough was being done.

I know, it is not going to change the world, but I only needed to change one child’s world for all the effort to be worthwhile. Unfortunately I returned back to the UK before being able to see it through although it is still something I plan to do. However, what I found in the UK seemed to only highlight the amount of troubles facing people in our world.

One thing I have found in all my research is that there are many incredibly brave people, some children, creating blogs that are trying to share their experiences in the hope that they come to terms with what they are going through, but most importantly that someone out there may see a post, a blog or a word that truly does connect and they do not feel so isolated, so alone and even so abandoned. From deep heartfelt messages, quotes and even incredible illustrations show a glimpse of the pain in people’s lives, these people are what you might call ‘real comic book heroes in a digital world.’

So, whatever you are facing, don’t give up, don’t sleep thinking no one cares because there are many people in this world who care about you. More importantly don’t blame yourself for anything that has happened as we all carry baggage with us through life and it defines who you are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Those that love you will accept that, it doesn’t matter about the ones that don’t. Just search for whatever you are going through online, I guarantee you will find help and importantly not be alone through the journey you are on.


Full Potential Can Only Be Reached With Full Commitment

The truth is we are all guilty of not living up to our full potential. There is no excuse, no blame to be placed or tear to be shed. We may blame society for crashing our dreams, holding us back, pulling the economical rug from beneath us but the cold hard fact is that the only person that can change our situation is the individual themselves, You and me.

Life has a way of distracting us from our goals, putting little obstacles in our path and sometimes just being down right mean with circumstance or chance. But hey, that is life and we have a simple choice, either accept the fact that things will not always go your way or face the dark road of self-doubt and self-pity.

These roads are the ones most trodden unfortunately and everything in today’s media, society and culture is pushing you to go the same way as the herd. But unless you are like me and just so stubborn that you don’t know when you are beaten, or just know that a better life is waiting for you if you try that little bit harder, then the road you will walk will be one of self discovery and enlightenment. That doesn’t mean that it will be straight and smooth, but it does mean there is a better you waiting at the end. Journey on!