If It Looks & Swims & Quacks Like A Duck, It Might Not Be A Duck

I was shocked at what the pyramids looked like up close when I went to Egypt.  I always thought that they’d be smooth* on the outside.  But when I got up close to them they were made of very large stones.

Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza

More recently I found out that many of the Greek and Roman architects tilted columns and spread them out unevenly to give the appearance that the columns were actually spread out evenly and absolutely straight.


The Parthenon in Greece uses a technique called “entasis” to make it appear that the columns are absolutely straight when in fact they are slightly curved

The point is that when we observe something superficially, we may be fooled into thinking a certain way.  And sometimes it takes someone to point it out and say; “Hey, look at it this way”, before we ever even notice the truth.

It strikes me that when people talk about “success” and “failure” they are often described as the opposite of one another.  People make it sound like there’s a spectrum like height, where there’s a tallest person and where there’s a shortest person.

The reality is very different.

The reality is that when you set out to accomplish something “failure” and “success” often require the same amount of effort, the same actions, the same thought processes, the same sacrifices, but one has an outcome which we call “failure” and the other has an outcome we call “success”.  Failure and success it seems are just two sides of the same coin.

“Mediocrity” is in fact the real opposite of both “success” and “failure”.  Coming somewhere in the middle, not standing out and fitting in is the path that people who are trying to accomplish something avoid at all costs.

*I am aware that the pyramids in Egypt were in fact smooth on the outside many years ago, but nonetheless they definitely aren’t smooth today.


Make It Count

Easy Wins Don’t Count

If someone gets the grades by cheating or gets that promotion because their dad is the boss then it doesn’t count.  They know it and everyone else knows it.  What’s more, because they didn’t earn it they have no character, integrity or insight.  They haven’t learnt how to work with people, how to bring out the best in people and lead them.

It doesn’t count.

Easy Failures Don’t Count

Did you really fail?  Or did you give up?

Real failures mean something.

It means you gave it your all.  You put your character, integrity and insight on the line.  Real failure means you worked with people and they gave you the best they could.  They dedicated a part of their life to you because they believed in you as you lead them to failure.

Unless you’ve done the above then you don’t have the right to say that you failed.

If you’ve done the above, then it counts and you can keep your head held high.

The Process

People focus on events.

Whether it’s when someone sells their company for tens of millions, or when someone wins gold at the Olympics, or when someone graduates from a prestigious University with a good degree; people focus on the event.

What they don’t focus on is the process.

The process is the hours of work, of focused practice that the person had to go through.  All the sacrifice they had to make and all the things they had to say no to to achieve something worth mentioning is the process.

It’s easy to put it down to luck.  That means it’s not our fault.  Putting it down to luck lets us off the hook.  It’s comforting to think that the world is mean and some people are just born a certain way.  Maybe they look the right way or they have the right parents?

However, the process doesn’t lie.  The process is what stands between you and the event.

Give Yourself Permission To Fail

“Today you’re going to listen to some music, then pair up with someone and then make a piece of music to play in front of the rest of the class.”

Everyone loved music lessons at school.  Even the people who sucked and had no musical talent whatsoever.  Usually at the end of the lesson the class would have some good laughs at some of the music, but the lesson itself was enjoyed by everyone.

Imagine if at work you got asked to do something way out of your comfort zone and then show it to your work mates at the end of the day.  People would be having panic attacks and feigning illness.

When do people stop giving themselves permission to fail?

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to fail?

If you aren’t failing then you have absolutely zero chance of success.