CHAPTER 3 Why failure happens

Success is not final, failure is not fatal.

Winston Churchill

We live in an era of overindulgence. While the media likes to turn the spotlight on our junk food and computer game–addicted youth, our overindulgence is not confined to the physical (or lack thereof). Today, our psychological lives are also characterised by relentless positivism and happiness delusions as we strive to create a perpetual mono-emotional state, such that we can never be truly sated.

One of the problems with our overindulgence in the positivity and hope fantasies touted by much of the self-help school is that they inform so many of our strategies in business, and in life for that matter. Added to this is the fact that they’re not especially helpful if we want to achieve actual results.

Sure they’re entertaining and they temporarily make us feel good (self-help’s comparison with rock concerts is well earned: you leave on a high, buy the merchandise and a month later it’s all gathering dust). But the motivation industry’s almost religious status has convinced many of us to abandon our own cognitive processes and ‘follow our bliss’: trust the universe and invest in a cork-board! (It’s important to note at this point that there is a huge distinction between affirmations and mental rehearsal.)

Consequently, great ideas, extraordinary teams, powerful organisations and some exceptionally gifted and talented individuals often fail. This is principally because they haven’t even ...

Get Selfish, Scared and Stupid: Stop Fighting Human Nature And Increase Your Performance, Engagement And Influence now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.