QUT - CPA Australia CEO - Overcoming Failures

Uploaded by TheQUTube on 02.09.2012

Look, in many ways, failure is in your mind too, right?
Let me give you an example.
I was twenty-seven years old and I saw a job in the paper – actually twenty-four years
old, not twenty-seven – I saw this job in the paper that was probably five times my
Why not? I’ll apply.
Well, actually, I shouldn’t say I applied because there was no ‘online’ then.
I’ll ‘apply’.
And I applied and there were four hundred candidates for this job and it came down to
two - myself and a lady.
And the unfortunate part of that era was that people would say to you, “We actually want
a male in this role.”
It was terrible but that’s how the world once was.
Anyway, so it was down to two of us and they said that, “There’s two of you and….
But the preference is you.
And all you have to do is go and sit in and do one of those… psychometric testing”,
or something to that effect.
And I’d had a bad experience at school with that psychometric testing.
I came in after lunch one day from playing football and they gave us a psychometric test
and I think they rang my parents and aid they should take him home and put him on the grass
because he’s got no future.
So I had this, sort of, picture of these testing things being terrible.
So I sat in this room, this lady had a stop watch and I just began literally sweating.
Sweating! To the point of it’s uncontrollable.
And I started doing this test, which is easy enough and I just couldn’t do it.
So I got up, I said, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this” And I got up and I left.
Now that’s probably the last recorded failure I remember, and I call it a failure because
I didn’t try it.
And I got on the train in Sydney and at that time there was graffiti on the train wall
in Town Hall Station, if anyone knows Sydney.
And it said, ‘Consume, Be Silent and Die.’
And I’ve gone on the train, I’ve just had this terrible experience, I’ve looked
at this graffiti and I though, “My god, what a day am I having.”
And I was so convinced that my embarrassment would kill me and then within a day or so,
it dawned on me.
I don’t know what happened but it dawned on me that no one’s ever going to know that.
And I can just get up and start again tomorrow.
And it dawned on me that people don’t care enough to worry about your embarrassment or
my embarrassment.
And to some extent that was the turning point for me because it taught me…
I always had a confidence to try things but I didn’t have the confidence to try things
and fail and now I just have a confidence to try things and fail.
If this was a failure, I can live with it.
I believe it won’t be – it’s already indicating it’s not but it’s okay.
You know, it’s okay to try.
I think if you protect yourself all your life and you don’t make any decisions about something
because you want to be safe, I think that’s… in some ways, that’s failure.
I think you’ve got to know that in the nursing home, which is a long way away, in the nursing
home you don’t want to say, “There’s all these things I wanted to try.”
I do not want to be a really healthy, fit person in a nursing home.
I want to be exhausted because I’ve tried the things I wanted to try.
And it’s like momentum – you try something, it works, you try something else and it works.
Just like you finish your course, you try another course, you know?
And that’s why it’s important to not, not to hold back - to actually try.
Yeah, look, it’s true that I think everyone goes through in their life and has their moments.
If the truth be know, when I grew up my mother was chronically ill with depression.
So when I grew up we, sort of, learnt to - she was fantastic and I was very close to her
- but she would go in and out of her cycles.
And, you know, I learnt, I learnt to almost quarantine it when she was unwell and just
manage my life in a little box at school and just have a good time at school.
Knowing that she loved me, I loved her and that basically I could walk through anything
once I learnt to do that.
So I guess I didn’t know that as a child but I learnt to quarantine the things that
I didn’t like or the things that I thought were very hard and then I - it allows me to
keep going.
But I’ll tell you one technique I’ve used, and I still use it.
In fact, my family would tell you this – is if I’ve really had a bad day, I look in
the mirror and remind myself not to listen to them.
They’ll occasionally hear me ranting in front of a mirror, just the little mantra
I have that says, ‘don’t listen to them, keep believing.’
So you do have to keep driving yourself but a great technique is if you quarantine things
that are difficult and don’t… don’t let them prevail all your thoughts.
No matter what the news is that you deal with in life it really does come down to the fact
that most aspects of life can be positive, even in a really bad situation.
And you’ve just got to get up.
And I don’t wish it on you, but the more times you fall over early in your career,
the stronger you get and once you crawl up and get up and walk again, you recognise,
you know, what doesn’t kill me is good for me.