Reframing Success

So many people today still fear failing, still fear ‘failure’. Some even fear success. There have been many psychological and other theories as to why, including Self- Sabotage and a lack of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). However, much can be remedied by undertaking a reframe of these terms and then moving towards a better understanding of the true nature of change and problem solving.

I first examined in detail the concepts of ‘failing’, ‘failure’ and ‘success’ in my book, True Wealth- Principles and Practices (Spano, L 2014, True Wealth- Principles and Practices, Creatness International, Brisbane, Australia, p64ff; further details see: ). The central idea about reframing success is that all success comes from failing. This is a curious paradox. To resolve it we must move to a higher level of understanding. Despite this, most people today still believe the opposite- success originates from success. We are either a ‘born a winner’ or ‘born talented’, or not.

The dichotomy of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ can also be traced to Dweck’s Fixed v Growth Mindset distinction (Dweck, C 2017, Mindset, Little Brown Book Group, London). Based on substantial evidence, Dweck drew the distinction between those who thought mental capacity was fixed from birth, and those who thought it could grow through the appropriate education and training. The Fixed / Growth dichotomy is a variant of the ‘talented / non talented’ divide. Dweck proved categorically the Fixed Mindset is a false idea. All successful people, grew their mental and other capacities through hard work and specialised, creative education, insights and training. The Fixed / Growth dichotomy is a false dichotomy. It is too simple, too linear, too polarising and is a hangover from the Industrial age. Now given advances in neuroscience, particularly Neuroplasticity, the idea of capacity being fixed, qualitatively or quantitatively is clearly short-sighted. In addition, it has no place in the creative, Information Age. It has no place for an age where diversity and inclusion are key elements of long term success, particularly in organisations.

Today in the Information Age, such simple either / or linear thinking models hinder creativity. They destroy the confidence we need to persevere and to progress, particularly in the face of dramatic market or environmental change. What is needed is not just a reframe of terms, but given the Growth Mindset, we also need a model to achieve long-term success or to creatively problem-solve.

The model I proposed in True Wealth Principles was as follows (p.117) –

‘Failure’ → Results → Creative Responses → Constant Growth & Improvement → More and more ‘failure’ → (Repeat above several times) → Evolution or rise of our ourselves → Fusion of the material and non-material, internally and externally → Movement to the Secondary Level and Creative Centre → Movement away from the self → Values, meaning and mission in contribution and service to society and beyond → ‘Success’ guaranteed .

This model is a longer version of my RRKR Model (Results, Responses, Kaizen, Repeat):

Results → Responses → Growth & Improvement (Kaizen) → Repeat / More Results.

We can see the adaptive power of this model. There is never a ‘failure’, just the repetition and refinement of results. It fits a testing methodology such as Design Thinking perfectly. Importantly, it overrides the psychological baggage so many of us still have with labels such as ‘failure’.

No one is ever a ‘failure’- we are all on a path of unending creative growth and improvement.

Nature, through the concept of evolution works the same way. A plant or animal adapts to the environment, nature selects the most suitable characteristics, and those characteristics survive and thrive. As the natural environment changes, plant and animal characteristics change over time.

Dynamic, adaptive capability is powerful for life. It is also powerful at the levels of mindset and organisation. For some strange reason, industrialism, linear, mechanistic thinking wanted to make people and their organisations inflexible and static. It wanted to artificially cap potential. Why? In a word- control. This may have worked for a time when environments or markets did not change significantly, but not when there is quick, substantial change, particularly at the level of the core business model. Industrial, linear thinking today is clearly anachronistic. Today we are slowly but surely moving from a Linear Mindset to a Creative Mindset. Today we are learning more from nature to design better systems, and to allow people the freedom to find purpose and authenticity.

“Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.” – C. S. Lewis.

By Lee Spano, Creatness International