Celebrating Successful Women (and their failures) #IWD18
On Thursday 8th March we joined women and men around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day: a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and a rallying call to action for gender parity.
To celebrate this special day, we asked 10 successful women working in various creative roles in Scotland to share a story with us. Our brief was simple: to tell a story about a time they had failed. We didn’t want PowerPoint presentations, microphones or philosophies, business pitches or case studies, but a true story told from the heart. We called it ‘Failing Up!’ and agreed to embrace our failures, which we often learn more from than our triumphs.
We enlisted the help of the amazing Alex Dalton of Leading Ideas, who held a similar event in London last year that served as our inspiration for the event. Alex worked her magic and curated an evening of stories that made our packed room full of guests laugh, cry and spontaneously burst into song (what better way to end an evening than with an impromptu rendition of Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ led by the wonderful Karen Dunbar?!)
There were stories of failings at work, relationship failures, mental health, cancer, weight loss, deportation and even a failure to fail at anything at all (much more harmful than it sounds-‘Overachievers Anonymous’ coming soon!) It’s a huge ask to expect people to talk about a time in their life when they ‘got it wrong’ to a room full of strangers, but our contributors were honest, insightful and incredibly generous with their stories. There was an overwhelmingly supportive atmosphere in the room and a camaraderie between guests, some of whom arrived not knowing anyone else present.
It’s difficult to pinpoint one key takeaway from the evening, as every story was so different and each of the ten woman had their own words of wisdom to share with the room. One quote that seemed to resonate with all present was that failure is an event, not a person. When something goes wrong we blame ourselves; we’re human and sometimes we mess up. The real lesson comes in picking ourselves up from that event and remembering that you yourself are not the failure. Learn from the event, build on it and move on.
The brave and brilliant women who stood before us to tell their story hadn’t arrived at where they are today through dwelling on failure. By standing up and speaking to a room full of people about their failings, they accepted and embraced them, encouraging others to find the bravery to do the same. That, we would say, is Failing Up.
With thanks to all of all incredible contributors: Karen Dunbar, Uzma Mir-Young, Vicky Brock, Caroline Newson, Rhona Baillie, Laura Boyd, Danae Shell, Tracey Chisholm, Shirani Sabaratnam and Rachel McCormack. More info on all of our speakers here.
Thanks also to the wonderful Alex Dalton of Leading Ideas who provided the inspiration for and produced the event and without whom the evening would have been a complete failure (ha!)
A few highlights from the evening: