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Why ‘failures’ succeed during crisis and what we can learn from them

Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University and one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation and mindsets. Her work focuses on why people succeed and how it is possible to replicate their system for success. Her work’s relevance to us during these critical and uncertain times lies in her research that has demonstrated it is possible to change student’s mindsets in ways that have a lasting impact on their trajectories.

In her book “Mindset”, Dweck explains the difference between having a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, why one trumps the other and what we can do to adopt the right one. Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Research on brain plasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons can change with experience.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

The list of ‘failures’ who have succeeded is beyond the scope of this article, however, one thing is certain, individuals such as James Dyson, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, Jerry Seinfeld, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein etc., are all names the world recognize as icons of success.

Those that we eventually hold in high esteem as being at the top of their fields have pasts littered with start-ups that went under or ideas that never got off the ground. At a recent talk I delivered to a popular manufacturing management team in France, I shared one of my pet peeves within the speaker and business coaching circuit. One popular slogan thrown around loosely is “fail fast, fail often” and this concerns me. While I am of the opinion that it is not the intention of every leading figure that uses this slogan to mislead audiences, I do feel that it is often misinterpreted as aiming for short-term, frenetic pandemonium. More thought should be given when influencers are offering catch phrases to ignite audiences, as many times professional and non-professional audiences are filled with people who invariably lean on every word of influencers.

Rushing through one task to complete it while racing to the next objective as quickly as possible is divisive and not efficient. Originating from Silicon Valley and the expansive start-up culture there, the real aim of “fail fast, fail often,” is not to fail but to be iterative. Like the success of the icons mentioned previously and my own experiences, being open to failure provides the best results. The intention is to ensure we are learning from our mistakes as we tweak, reset and redo if necessary.

One day Thomas Edison came home and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.” His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: Your son is a genius, this school is too small for him and does not have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself.”

After many, many years, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, one day he was looking through old family things. Suddenly he saw a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up, on that paper was written: Your son is addled (mentally ill), we won’t let him come to school any more.

Edison cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary, “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

Here is a reminder of how important failure is and how developing passion can make all the difference. It captures the essence of taking action and maintaining a positive attitude through the cycles of failure and success. It is from the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who won the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature.

“I slept and dreamed that life was joy,

I awoke and saw that life was duty,

I acted, and behold duty was joy.”

Doing your duty, or passion will bring you joy. If you are not sure what your purpose in life is, I recommend you spend some time to discover it. Most of us do not use the stuff that we have brought into this world. One idea can change your life, and the secret you have been waiting to find during this reading is that only an idea can change your life. Everything around you began that way including you.

Edison had 1,093 patents for different inventions. Many of them, like the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera were brilliant creations that have a huge influence on our everyday lives.

All the resources in the world can be at your fingertips – ample funds, innovative ideas and a solid game plan to get there, however, the best preparation and expert guidance is all for nothing if you are not able to develop a growth mindset and hold on to your belief through iterative execution during expanding and contracting conditions.

• Eliot Kelly is recognized as a serial entrepreneur and has been featured on CNN, BBC Three’s Be Your Own Boss and an extensive list of magazines and articles. His four books have been translated in over seven languages and are sold in 29 countries, recently being shortlisted for Best Self-Help and Best Advice Books 2019 by The Author Academy. He is regarded as a top sales, business and leadership management coach who creates opportunities for his success partners through financial literacy and life skills training. He is also a professional speaker and continues to inspire present and future entrepreneurs around the world. Email: eliotlkelly@gmail.com; LinkedIn: Eliot Kelly; Facebook: facebook.com/eplatinumkelly; Instagram: @eliotkellyofficial.

The much-anticipated global online event will run from October 3, 2020, on Saturdays and Sundays. The Bahamas recently joined the ISF, and this is the first ISF sanctioned event that The Bahamas is taking part in. Following the FIDE (International Chess Federation) Online Chess Olympiad at the end of July and beginning of August, it is the second international event that The Bahamas is taking part in since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a stoppage of sports worldwide in mid-March.

There will be four separate age categories in the ISF World Schools Championships Online Chess 2020 – for male and female competitors born in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and male and female competitors born in 2006 and 2007. Interested parties can contact the BCF for more details or visit the federation’s website at https://www.bahamaschess.org/onlinecalendar.html.

“We wish all our members currently doing national exams good luck, do the best you can. Unfortunately, OTB events are still suspended, but lichess.org, chess.com [and] chess24.com are still having daily tournaments and are suitable for practice,” said a BCF spokesperson through a press release. “Members who would like training to improve their skill level, online training for adults and kids is still ongoing. Feel free to contact any of our FIDE certified trainers or the BCF for assistance in finding one.”

Interested parties can contact the federation at e-mail address bahamaschessofficial@gmail.com. Further details for the ISF World Schools Championships Online Chess 2020 can be found on https://isf-eras.org/online-chess or at https://www.isfsports.org.

The BCF will post all of its new events on its online calendar page, and the weekly friendly regional events on the website lichess.org.

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