Winning & Learning

Winning & Learning

Lisa O'Neill

Lisa O'Neill

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I love the idea of winning or learning. If they are your only options then failing doesn’t exist.

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My 13-year-old son recently competed in a National Taekwondo tournament. Due to a low number of competitors, he was put in a sparring weight division well above his weight. He wasn’t happy. He wanted to withdraw from the bout. We had travelled 6 hours for him to compete. I wasn’t happy.

He has spent years of hard work and training to achieve his Black Belt. He gave me loads of reasons why he shouldn’t fight. The other guy was heavier. The other guy was taller. The other guy had longer arms! I listened. I understood. I asked him, “What is the worst that can happen?” “I lose,” he replied. “What if you don’t lose?” I asked “Well, I doubt I will win,” he replied. I explained that he was not expected to win. No one would imagine that he could, looking at the size difference.

“What if you learn?” was my next question. He looked at me blankly. Win or learn – they are your two options I said. He got in the ring. He didn’t win. He learnt. He learnt that his training had paid off. He learnt that he could hold his own. He walked away taller, stronger, and really pleased with himself. Not only did he face his fears, but he also realised that learning is a wonderful outcome.

I love the idea of winning or learning. If they are your only options, then failing doesn’t exist.

This is why I love the Cluster Strategy that we teach in the Thought Leaders Curriculum. Win or Learn. If your cluster is successful, you have a commercial win. If it’s not, you learn. That’s how it works. You create a solution, something someone needs, offer it to a market that might value that, and decide on the best method to deliver it in.

Then off you go to market…. Some might work, some might not. There are many reasons your cluster might not work. It might be commercially unsuccessful but there is always learning.

Reviewing unsuccessful clusters is a wonderful way to find the lesson in failure. Failing fast is important. If it’s not working, shift your focus and get something else up and running. Often in our pace to move on, we move too fast and don’t stop to review why the cluster failed. We miss the lesson!

Was the message right?
Is it an idea that someone values?
Does it fit into a category that people pay for?
Is it easy to understand or are you being too clever?
Do you have credibility in this area of expertise?

Was the market right?
Does this industry or company care about this problem?
Is it a first-order problem for them right now?
Is this a good time for them to be buying?
Are you known in this market?

Was the method right?
Is the amount of time required relevant to the size of the issue?
What type of delivery is ideal for them? One-on-one or one-to-many?
What time of day, day of the week, or time of the year is ideal for them?
Are you confident in this delivery mode?

Did you do the work?
Did you offer it to enough people?
Did you create the necessary collaterals?
Our clusters don’t work unless we do!

There is so much valuable learning for us when things are not commercially successful. Take the lesson. Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” I love that.

Lisa O’Neill

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