There are 189 million references to the word ‘failure’ in Google so obviously it is a fairly popular term by which society judges itself .Whether you are a success or failure depends ultimately on the what criteria is used and by whom. What do “failure” and “Personal branding” have in common with each other? More then meets the eye it turns out if you look behind the motivation for Kevin Kelly’s article “The power of failure” inspired by J.K Rowling’s recent Harvard speech. Everybody loves a good story and like many others, I was suitably inspired after watching it because I never realized failure could be so important in life. Rowling argued that ” Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way” Such knowledge she continues “is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.” and who can argue with that.
Few go through life without experiencing some sort of hardship in their life’s but it was after hearing how she had used this flashpoint in her life experience to grow that I understood ‘failure’ on a deeper level is an integral part of first steps to personal branding. Carol Dweck called this the Growth Mindset” in her book “Mindset” and shows us how can we learn from failure and grow as individuals. People with a growth mindset she argues understand that their self-image is not tied to their success and how you look to others; they also understand that failure is an opportunity to learn, and so whatever happens you win. Criticism and negative feedback are sources of information. The ‘Growth Mindset‘ sees effort as the path to mastery and finds lessons in the success of others and as a result reaches even higher levels of achievement. Individuals with a ‘fixed mindset’ on the other hand avoid challenges, give up easily, ignore feedback and feel threatened by the success of others with the result never reaching their full potential. All of us she argues exhibit varying degree’s attributes of the fixed mindset that ultimately holds us back. This she demonstrates this by studying the mindset of well known sportsman and businessmen alike which makes for fascinating reading.
So it is in the midst of our modern digital world whilst we have at our disposal a wonderful array of social media tools to promote our personal brand we cannot take failure for granted if we wish to succeed. I am a great believer in things happen for a reason and as Seth Godin said in his “Worthy” Blog article today “Our birthright is to fail and to fail often, but to fail in search of something bigger than we can imagine.”
J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech