Face it, you’ve failed Michael Jordan.

Look at all the things you’ve had a go at over the years – at work, on the sporting field, in the boardroom, for your family, with your finances… I reckon there’d be a number of failures – some small, some a little bigger and possibly some HUGE, very public failures. I guess you would have felt defeated and most likely lost confidence, maybe some respect and possibly some $$. But guess what? The sun rose the next day and the day after that. The world kept on spinning. You’re still here. I’m still here. Life goes on.

The ‘success mantra’ of modern western society edifies the winners and the high achievers, overtly identifying that they are DIFFERENT from us ‘normal’ folk. And, yes, they are potentially different – they have failed AND kept going. It’s important, though, to differentiate between “intelligent” failures (see acknowledgements below) and those that stem from a really bad idea (think Jackass stunts)! Intelligent failures come about from solid planning so that win or lose you will learn something from them. Similarly, they tend to be modest in nature so a catastrophe won’t be a likely result. If the original idea was not underpinned by solid planning or it stemmed from a momentary flight of fancy, then failure was most probably the likely outcome so we shouldn’t be surprised.

Failure is also more likely as we take more risks. Breakthrough or innovation does not originate from safety – it’s the result of planned risk. This is equally true for individuals as it is for corporations. Case in point is the Newton. Released in 1993, it was touted as the future of computing – also known as the MessagePad, it was a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) using a pen based system. In hindsight, its high price, large size and poor handwriting recognition doomed it to failure. However, this did not stop Apple taking risks and innovating – hence, we now have the iPad, iPhone and Mac range of products.

Translate this example to your situation. You’ve had a crack at something; you felt confident about the planning and it just didn’t come to pass. Step back, remove the emotion and use logic to assess the process from arm’s length. What could have been done better? What surprises presented? What were the resource constraints (money, skills, knowledge, contacts etc)? What do you need to do differently NEXT TIME?

And that’s the key – NEXT TIME. Ask yourself – how can you incorporate your learnings from this failure into your next time?  Step on from failure, plan your next time and you are on the path to success.

To quote Michael Jordan, often lauded as the best basketball player (possibly athlete) of all time “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the winning shot, & I missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Let Hope Rise.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Sitkin, Sim (1996) “Learning Through Failure: The Strategy of Small Losses”newton & the iPhone

Look beyond the hill

You know how it goes – you step out to do something different or for the first time and you can’t quite see the goal – you know it’s out there somewhere but there seems to be something blocking your view – a hill. Not just any old hill, but the hill of discomfort, of inconvenience, of low-self-esteem. All those things that are telling us why we CAN”T do something.

If we keep our eyes on the hill (or hills as the case may be!) we’ll easily justify why we shouldn’t persevere. We may even determine that we shouldn’t even try & to simply slot back into the same ol’ same ol’ existence. We need to raise our vision to BEYOND the hill looking to the change that awaits us on the other side. We each need to understand that whenever we decide to do something out of the ordinary, the hill WILL appear dredging up all our past not-so-successful attempts, the resource issues it’ll create, the character challenges. This is par for the course. Regardless, the change, the new you, is STILL there, just over the hill.

Expect the hill, but look beyond it.

Let Hope Rise.

What’s the alternative?

In the gameBrisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou was addressing his charges earlier this week on how to manage their nerves as he prepared them for their maiden A-League Grand Final “…you may be a bit anxious and nervous but you have to enjoy the (grand final) week. Because the alternative is watching two other teams prepare for it and I can tell you that feels a lot worse.”

Oftentimes we can feel apprehensive as we face a new venture, a first-time experience. The alternative is to miss out on this opportunity, to not stretch yourself… to watch others go where you could have. Which future are you desiring? To be in the game or on the sidelines thinking “if only…”?

As Ange said, you can be anxious and nervous AND still enjoy the experience. The alternative could indeed be a lot worse.

Let Hope Rise.

Build a bridge

What does it take to create the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world? In the case of the 35km long Hangzhou Bridge in eastern China it takes a team of 600 experts 10 years planning, a 10000 strong workforce constructing it over 4 years and an additional year of testing before it’s deemed ready: in short, a significant investment of time, money & effort.

Are you hoping to create something of lasting significance? Something that goes beyond the everyday, perhaps creating a legacy for future generations? Nothing of such great importance is achieved without significant investment of resources – your time, your effort, perhaps even your money. The Hangzhou Bridge was built with an intended lifespan of 120 years, stress-tested to withstand some of the world’s biggest tides, typhoons and collisions from ships.

Plan with a long-term view. Build to withstand all that will come against it. Create lasting significance.

Let Hope Rise!


What a way to kick off a new blog than by referencing a fellow blogger! Anyway, here goes…

Seth Godin wrote earlier this week about “initiators” – those of us who make the decision “to lead, to poke, to initiate”. The idea being that’s it’s far simpler to react to things, rather than deciding to go somewhere & then go there. Seth concluded “initiative is taken, not given”. Whilst referencing Seth perhaps is not taking the initiative, I thought this too great a challenge not to share!

My mantra for 2011 is “let hope rise” – taking my dreams off the back-burner and placing them in the forefront of my thinking. Seth’s word would then suggest that for these dreams to become legitimate expectations I need to take the initiative. I need to not get hung up on reacting to stuff that’s happening, rather I need to set my direction and just get going. Less talk, more positive action.

Let’s look for opportunities – Let Hope Rise!

Mark Mahoney's reflections on life as a husband, father and a jack-of-all-trades leader!