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Louise's Column - The true secret of success


Is the true secret of success to make lots of mistakes? Well, according to author Matthew Syed, it is only by embracing failure that we can improve our lives.

His book ‘Black Box Thinking’ is a Sunday Times No.1 best seller and worth a read for those that want to understand more about high performance and how success really happens.

He explains that we shouldn’t be despondent about failure, but see it as an opportunity to improve and adapt in the same way scientists do when their theory fails… it gives them the impetus to evolve and progress.

Many of us believe that ‘positive thinking’ is the answer – we visualise success and it somehow magically happens… our jobs are amazing, or relationship wonderful and everything is blissful!

Syed believes that nothing is further from the truth. He’s not telling us to dwell on the bad stuff, but to recognise it and use it as the fuel to make us more successful. He explained “Think about how innovation happens in the real world.” Great inventors always develop their insights not from an appraisal of how good everything is, but from what is going wrong. The collapsible buggy was a response to the impracticalities of unwieldly prams and the designer came up with the idea after watching his daughter struggle with her daughters pram.

There is also hope for those that believe that the older brain isn’t capable of changing much and somehow runs out of steam. Syed reveals that neuroscientists have found that the mature brain is organised differently to the younger brain and when adequately challenged it keeps growing and developing. The human brain is capable of continual reinvention into our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Black Box Thinking is definitely worth a review for businesses and individuals wanting to understand the recipe for success at every level and stage of life.


Louise Hewett

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