Watching The Island with Bear Grylls on Channel 4 the last few weeks, I'm reminded about how groups of people behave differently when under pressure.
Now I have never been in that type of extreme situation, on an uninhabited South Pacific island, fending for myself, near starving, and in all probability I never will. Most certainly not by choice as these islanders have, but it is a very good metaphor for life and work. It goes a long way to addressing the eternal 'work harder/work smarter' theory.
Sometimes businesses are under extreme pressure to survive. When things are not working or the results that we want are not appearing fast enough, people and businesses have different ways of reacting and responding.
Some stick their heads in the sand hoping food/sales will appear. Most opt for working harder at the same task, in the hope that will engender some enormous result. But some choose to behave differently, to find an alternative solution.
In last year's series of The Island, it was Sam on the men's island who chose to defy the overwhelming vote that working harder was the right thing to do. He (alone) believed firmly that working harder simply was not the right strategy. What was his evidence? The men standing before him were starving, shrivelling away, surviving on a few-hundred calories a day.
Sam made a decision
Repair the net.
The group had abandoned this approach after the net's first failure. But Sam believed the net would be the route to abundant food for all.
For this belief, he was ridiculed, outcast, undermined – you might even say bullied by the extreme work-harder brigade – particularly after once or twice the net failed, again, to produce fish. But Sam was not downhearted. He simply kept going, meticulously repairing the net each day for three days, and using his energy reserves to place the net in sea again.
The result of his persistence?
A stomach-filling 21 fish on day three.
And 20 more on day four.
The group hailed him a hero, their saviour, their faith restored in the net, their bodies nourished on the bounty.
How often in business do we give up on an idea without seeing it through to the end? And how often are people ridiculed for coming up with new, seemingly impossible ideas? Or for following through on their beliefs in the face of criticism? It reminds me of the quote:
'All big things that happen in this world are done by people who are naive and have an idea that is obviously impossible.'
The one thing they all have in common is their relationship to the fishing net. They have an idea, they persist and they don't give up. For them failure is a temporary and neccesary step toward success, it is not outright failure. For me there are only two types of failure: giving up too soon, and being so afraid to fail that we don't even start.
Persist my friend.
Over to you
What's your view of failure? Is it your signal to change tack and try something else, or is it a data-rich step towards your ultimate success? Do you give up, or persist? Come on over to Twitter and let us know.
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A version of this post orginally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, penned of course by our Mindset Man, Darren Smallridge.