You Won’t Succeed – Unless You Try


If my earlier post this week is the A side of the single, then I guess this is the double A side (remember those?). The title of this post is taken from the end of verse two of Clash City Rockers. Even if you read no further I urge you – click the link back there and go watch The Clash doing what they do best, better than all the rest.

I’ve been humbly motivated by the feedback and comments my ‘You Will Fail’ tale brought forth. A number of people spoke about our potential for failure and whether we might reframe failure in order to alleviate the fear around it. David Goddin summed it up, ‘do we really know ourselves if we will fail or succeed? The reality is we just don’t know unless we are given the opportunity and try to succeed.’

Let’s wind the turntable back a bit…

When I was employed as a business leader I made a point of not asking people to do things I wasn’t willing to do myself. I’m not talking skills here, but attitude. The kind of attitude which in my case brings you into disagreement with the group CEO. In my experience most CEOs get told what people think they want to hear and either through arrogance, ignorance or both they end up believing the hype. My good fortune is I’ve never been a yes man, other than when yes is the right answer, and it often isn’t. Now I run my own business and help people in other companies to make work better. The essence of that for me is authenticity, and an ability to create an encouraging environment within which to experiment.

Three weeks ago I spotted a fun opportunity to be a part of an interesting art and music exhibit. In years gone by I would have read about this opportunity and probably gone to see it, once it was completed by others. It was so far out of my zone I don’t think I would have dreamt of participating. Things are different now.

I contacted the exhibitors with a simple and passionate request to be involved and moved on. Future focus is important. I’d decided to engage, I’d written, now get on with the next thing. A few days later I got a reply inviting me into the South London studio to record a song on good old fashioned vinyl with Ted Riederer as the producer. I grinned. For several days I grinned. Here is a picture of me in the studio grinning. The recording went well, one take, a few tiny mistakes – just how I like it!


I’ve gone on enough already and yet there’s so much more to tell. What happened thereafter involved me painting the record cover, getting my record played at a few gigs, being part of a real life London art exhibition, meeting Arturo Vega, watching him screen print a shirt for my daughter and a jacket for me and a little something for someone else. In my own small way I’ve become a recording artist and an artist artist! I’m still grinning.

I love creating an environment where people feel willing, even comfortable to try new things. And I love being in that environment myself. Authenticity rocks. I’d like to highlight another experiment in the blogosphere (do folk still call it that?) going on right now. The very fabulous Alison Chisnell is in the home straight of a very engaging blog experiment over here. Alison put a few subject ideas up to the vote and has blogged every day this week covering the most popular items. It’s been a very engaging week over at Alison’s place.

Joe Strummer is right; you won’t succeed unless you try.

What are you going to try next?