Failure and Onion Bhajis.

2 Jun 2020

I love to read and, naturally, belong to a book club. In fact, I belong to two book clubs.

The first is a group of friends for whom the actual reading of the allotted book is secondary to getting together to talk about everything that is going on in our lives and to support each other.

The other book club is a far more serious affair.

It is a business book club. We are expected to read the book at least once, to have analysed it and be prepared to speak about it. We have a form to complete before the meeting, detailing learning points and actions we intend to take as a result of reading the book. We meet in a delightful country pub and are served with a delicious selection of sandwiches, sausage rolls and – yes – onion bhajis.

Our most recent book is the best yet. In fact, it is our favourite book so far: ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed. It’s not just about business but has many lessons for life. I listened to it on audio, which was a treat, as the narrator, Simon Slater, has a wonderful voice.

The reason why I share this book with you, is that it has transformed my thinking about mistakes and failure.

I won’t detail the book here – you can find out yourself if you are interested – but I will share what I have learned.

You see, at the beginning of May, I wrote down a list of all the tasks I wanted to complete in the month. On Sunday, 31st May, I looked back at the list. There were nine tasks or projects: I had completed none of them!

Furthermore, I had not even started any of them. That’s a pretty big failure in my book. I didn’t even have a valid reason; I just hadn’t done them. I had done other things, of course, but I had not done what I really wanted to get done.

My normal modus operandi in this situation is to beat myself up; ‘You are lazy, disorganised, unmotivated and too easily distracted.’ I should imagine many of you can relate to that pattern of thinking.

None of those are true (except possibly the easily dis – oh, look – a squirrel!), and thinking like this is counter-productive.

So, I’ve set myself the task of analysing just why none of them happened. After all, this non-productivity is a repeating pattern.

I’ve come up with a list of things I can change in June. These changes might work, and they might not. If they do, then great. If not, I need to change something else and try again.

I mean to adopt the famous mindset of Edison. He is held to have said that he did not fail a thousand times to build a lightbulb, but that the lightbulb was an invention with a thousand steps.

I’m hoping to discover a method to be more productive in fewer than a thousand steps!


A Moodscope member.

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