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!
I remember reading a quote on online once that read, “Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head.” I love this quote and think it is extremely powerful. It also made me think about how difficult it is in life without the extra burden of carrying such baggage with you.
We have all been upset, betrayed, lied to and more by one person or another throughout our lives. But one thing you must not do is keep that anger inside you or drag it along like an anchor at the bottom of the sea catching on every little rock or boulder, as it will only slow you down. Once the initial pain subsides you must review the other persons side of what happened and then see where you went wrong in the situation or what you could have done differently.
You see, nice that pain subsides, and it will, you will be able to look at every aspect with a clear mind, as though you are watching it happen to someone else. Only then can you really understand or take lessons out of that experience. This is something you must do. You cannot put this away, push it deep within or just forget it. Trust me, I know from personal experience that sooner or later you will have top face this and it’s better to do it earlier. Because once you do go through the painful process of picking through the incident, or incidents, the sooner you can dump that baggage like garbage it is.
There is no doubt in my mind that once you do this, once you go through the process of analyzing both, the other persons acts and your own experiences, will you feel a sense of accomplishment as you overcome that feeling. Not only overcome that helpless and demoralizing feeling but also you will come out stronger as a person than you have ever been.
You will look back on that time and know that was the time that actually propelled you down the road to where you are know rather than slowing you down. Life is a journey and it is fraught with painful lessons and obstacles along the way, it is best you don’t bring your own obstacles or luggage with you, just take the lessons and move on. Let you past make you better, not bitter.
I recently spoke to a friend who was asking me what it was like traveling the world and did I regret leaving the UK when I did. I asked him why he was asking the question, as we talk all the time and I sensed there was something behind the need to ask me. He told me that he was thinking of traveling for work and just wanted to know my thoughts about the subject.
The truth is I left England when I was 23, worked in Paris and Amsterdam before moving to the Middle East. I have worked all over the Middle East and had some incredible experiences along the way. I told my friend that I always knew that at any time I wanted, I could go back. In fact the first year away I kept my return ticket pinned to a notice board in my office. I had good and bad experiences of course, but every single one changed me as a person, a change that has helped me be the person I am today, and I can still always go back. But the truth is I just want to keep exploring.
I told my friend this and there was a pause. I asked him, “What do you expect to change in the coming year that will help you decide to try something new?” He told me quickly, “Nothing!” So I just said to him, “Then there is no time like the present to change your life if the worst that can happen is that you are in the same position next year you are in now back at home?” I continued, “But, the difference being, you will have experienced something that will change you for the better, forever!”
I hope he tries something different, even if it is not traveling around the world. After all change always cleanses the soul and gives you a fresh look on where you are and where you are going, I know, I have experienced it first hand, many times!
A new day, a new set of challenges. Over the years one the things I find most interesting is the habits of good creative people. I see many kinds of creatives in my line of work and some breeze in when they feel like it, have a coffee, read the paper and before you know it half the day is done. Great if you are a David Ogilvy but lets face it there are few of those around. The best creatives I have worked in many different countries is the work ethic of always working, and working hard.
I was once on a creative rumble for FCB, which is where creative directors from many countries are pulled into one office to work together on one specific pitch. It was in Singapore and we had been slaving away all day on this particular brief. In the evening we went out for a drink together to relax and it was there that I really saw true passion for the business that has stayed with me throughout my career. (Actually my father would never have allowed me to be any different anyway as I have always hard a good work ethic as I love what I do) As we were drinking and playing pool I noticed the two guys from Chile doodling and chatting feverishly in the corner. They got up and said their goodbyes before pre-ceeding out the door and back to their hotel. In the morning they put on a presentation to the rest of us that had us in awe and fits of laughter with an incredible set of ideas.
These were two of the best creatives in South America. Not juniors or pretenders, and now you know why. Have a ‘productive and creative day.
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