founder of naked leader

To succeed…fail better

To succeed…fail better

tinyfeetTime to Read: 100 Seconds


To succeed…fail better

What I love about The Formula for Guaranteed Success (FGS) is how similar it is to Alice in Wonderland’s Rabbit Hole in the Lewis Carrol stories.Many organisations, such as Ford, Phoenix and Veolia, have made it their own, and every time I cover it in an event/workshop, there is a new or different angle, and this happened to me big time recently in Baltimore.

On the ‘Do It!’ part of the FGS, Manjit Dale, Founding Partner of TDR Capital, was sharing the story of his son, Arjun, learning to walk. I love this part – we all learn how much more children know about belief, persistence and #nevergiveup than we mere adults, and also the way a mum or dad (uncle or aunt etc.) always tells their story with such a mix of emotion, personal experience and drama!

Manjit was relating how Arjun crawled, pulled himself up on furniture, let go and fell over. Then he said the following:

“So, he lay there for a few seconds, then pulled himself up again, made adjustments and tried to walk again.”

In 13 years of hearing hundreds of parents relate this story, I don’t ever remember anyone using such a logical, factual, pure word to describe it. Arjun, 14 months old, never having read a leadership book, attended any conferences or watched the ‘How to Walk’ video on YouTube – “made adjustments.”

Of course he did!

He didn’t just do something different, he subconsciously knew, learned and remembered what he did, or at least thought he did, that caused him to fall over, and he made adjustments, or even an adjustment, to ensure the same mistake didn’t happen again, so he could move closer to his outcome.

And this is what we can each do in all of our lives, in our teams, on our projects and in our organisations.

Next time you ‘fall over’, pause for a few moments and consider, ponder and reflect – what caused you to ‘fall’ or ‘fail’? And then, as you have another go, make adjustments, so that you move closer to your outcome by ‘failing better’ each time.

With my thanks to Arjun and of course to daddy

And my love and best wishes to you all

Please share your ‘adjustments’ in the comments

7 Responses to To succeed…fail better

  1. Interesting article David – it’s funny how often we think of children as though we adults were never children ourselves! The simple fact that we all learnt to walk this way, rather begs the question – at what stage does our attitude to learning (and ‘falling over’) change from that of our younger selves? Is this what happens as we grow older and experience different attitudes to learning (and to ‘failing’) or as we grow more self-conscious about our ‘failings’? Are some people more in touch with their younger self and less inhibited about ‘falling over’ than others? Fascinating topic!

  2. As they say its not about the falling down its the getting back up again until you achieve your desired outcome.

  3. It’s interesting how this brings it back to ‘The Naked Leader Experience’ in regards to having been born with two fears: of loud noises and of falling over. All the other fears we have, we have learned. Especially the fear of ‘failure’. In my professional life, I ‘learned’ the fear of failure exactly because of the corporate culture in the companies I worked in, throughout the years. Strangely, this wasn’t restricted to one industry or even one country/culture. The way we reflect people’s ‘failures’ in their appraisals, pay rises, bonuses or even in verbal feedback, creates a fear which is hard to leave behind. I am very fortunate to work currently in a wonderful department of Lloyds Banking Group, where I am still adjusting to the fact that I’m allowed to ‘fall over’ and make ‘adjustments’ and try again, and people are patient whilst I do so. Even senior leaders in my huge department rub my knee better (figuratively speaking, of course!) and they never say “Diana will never learn how to walk!” just because I didn’t stand upright and walked at the first attempt…like others have done.

  4. When we are children we fall over, then we automatically get up again.
    We learn, we fail, we strengthen, we succeed.
    That is a brilliant way to look at life.
    We all know what to do to get where we want to get. Sometimes we just need encouragement.

  5. That’s the beauty of life. You learn as you go and progress at your own pace and sometimes you just need that moment of inspiration to spark you off.
    Once that happens, you are flying and that’s when you have to pursue your dream.

  6. Isn’t that life in general?
    You take the knocks, you fall down, you get up again.
    We can all learn from how we were as youngsters.
    We just did it. No thinking, we just knew to keep getting up and it’s a great life lesson.

  7. Thank you all – yes, some recurring themes…the importance of remembering what we once knew, with the associated courage…how we learn the fear of failure through both being taught it at school and by our parents…and how failure is always a choice – both in terms of what it means to us and in terms of whether we get back up again. David x

Leave a reply