Digital Dorset
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Guy Fawkes — notes

As part of my #weeknotechallenge I have decided to challenge myself to doing a different style of weeknotes every week.

Today is weeknote #38

The many other weeknotes in the challenge are linked below, i hope that even one of them will inspire someone to write or do something differently with their weeknotes/blog in future.

‘Traditional’ Weeknotes , Gif-Notes , Sketch-Notes, Shanty-Notes, Week-quotes, Animal Crossing — Notes , Poster — Notes, Haiku — notes, Achievement — notes, Hanami — notes, Meme — notes, Retro — notes, Comic — notes, Story — notes, Slang — notes, Tweet — notes, Blog — notes, Hansai — notes,Show & Tell — notes, Taskmaster — notes, Lyrical — notes, Rap — notes, Wellbeing — notes,Football — notes, Superhero — notes,Hot or Not — notes, Olympic — notes, Lesson — notes,Hamilton — notes,Poké — notes,Limerick — notes,Lil’ — notes,Emoji — notes,Bin it off — notes,Festival — notes,Mental health — notes, Idk what this is called but it looked cool on YouTube- notes

As the 5th of November is Guy Fawkes night (bonfire night) i thought a good theme this week would be to talk openly about failure and all the ‘gunpowder plots’ we have in our lives!

Thanks Delia Carr for inspiring the idea! (the bonfire night part not the failure part)


What is failure?

Saying you will finish that project you have been working on, trying to beat a time trial on a videogame, following a recipe exactly but your brownies taste like dirt. These are all common understandings of Failure. Setting a goal but not achieving it.

  • I would call myself a failure if i stopped the #weeknotechallenge abruptly.
  • Last week i had a meeting that didn’t get the outcome i wanted so i thought about what a failure i was the rest of the day.

Our brains are wired to believe that knowing if you achieved a goal is fairly simple and straightforward.

But failure if often in the eye of the beholder.

Imagine yourself in each of these three scenarios and whether you’d consider yourself to have failed:

  1. An experienced marathon runner sets a goal to run her next marathon in under four-and-a-half hours. This goal is a full 15 minutes shorter than her prior best time. She completes the marathon in 4 hours and 36 minutes. Besting her prior record by only nine minutes.
  2. Someone seeks a promotion to and competes against other internal and external candidates. They receives positive feedback. But get told that the leadership team felt that hiring an external person would demonstrate their commitment to change.
  3. A top young professional at an organization gets asked to prepare a slide deck for a big meeting. He submits what he considers to be an excellent presentation to his manager. The manager praises the work but substantially changes the slides before the big meeting.

I would feel like a failure in all three of these scenarios. Notice that the common theme between all three of these failures is an ideal we’ve set in our minds.

We have all had #gunpowderplotmoments in our life’s.

They could be seen as embarrassing evidence of your inability to do things right, but if you change the way you think about failure — if you reframe failure — you might just be onto a winner.

Reframing Failure

Failure doesn’t have to be seen as a negative. You can flip the script and change your mindset to reframe it into something new.

reframing a rainy day into a rainbow

Failure is a great teacher. It can be a valuable lesson for us in the long run. We should be able to examine it and take important lessons away from it.

This is even something that is part of the Design principles we use in the Digital Team. Turning small failures into lessons and when something doesn’t work you innovate, iterate and aren’t afraid to scrap and start again.

So… i hear you ask. What are some positives about failure?

- Fear of failure can be motivating.

It can motivate you to work extra-hard, to think super-creatively and to triumph over adversity to achieve success.

“It’s one of my biggest fears yet it’s one of my biggest drivers, too.”

- Failure is feedback.

Every time you fail, you learn something, and this means that you will be able to make better decisions in the future.

“Failure is a good thing, just don’t make the same mistakes twice!”

- Failure is an experiment

Often, the best way to learn things is to jump in and try. Experiment, make mistakes, break things. At the beginning, you may be over your head, but there’s no faster way to learn what works.

You learn the most from what doesn’t go well. Paying attention to what doesn’t work can give you useful information you can use to discover what does.

“All failures are temporary-what you learn in the process always helps you move forward.”

- Your failure helps others.

Failure can be feedback for loads of people… you can help others to avoid specific mistakes while highlighting that they should expect failures to occur occasionally — and should welcome the feedback that brings.

“When things go wrong, can you talk about those, can you share those as a learning point? Can you be open that it’s not all roses?”

- Don’t let the thought of failure paralyse you.

We all know that failure can burn, and that it can sometimes take a while to get over the slight.

“You’ll miss 100% of the choices you don’t take — so just take every shot and don’t worry about the failures!”

Embrace it!

So, try not to fear failure. Embrace it when it happens and decide what went wrong, and what you’d do differently next time. This is great when talking about a piece of work though a weeknote, show and tell or even (god help you) a report.

You can also use it in your personal life, i am an avid baker so when a recipe doesn’t go well instead of saying it’s a failure i can start to work out what went wrong and change it for next time.

Luckily i don’t have the pressure of Paul Hollywood’s piercing blue eyes staring me out though!

This is a great little acrostic and a way of remembering what to think when you fail:

Remember remember….

This guy failed so badly we have a big celebration every year… Whatever you are worried about it can’t be that bad!

Drawing of Guy Fawkes
It might just be me but i cant unsee David Mitchell

Also it was my birthday on Wednesday, hit a 1/4 of a century… now I’m getting old!

See you next week,

Sam out.




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Sam McLaren

Sam McLaren

Working to promote & shape the future of @digitaldorset at @dorsetcounciluk l DL100 Young Digital Leader | @inspiringthefuture Volunteer | Views are my own.

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