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Dyson leadership : overcome your failure

Posted by Genius tribes on 1:01 AM
Event : Ignite leadership training

Inspiration story on failures that we shared in our recent leadership training. Successful people look at mistakes as a results or outcome not as failure. And the very first point you fear of failure, you already failed.

James Dyson, the founder of Dyson company can is the perfect example to teach us on on how to overcome your fear. Bill Cosby had sum up all that has been said for overcoming failure by simply stating that "In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. "
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Failing 5,126 Times

Inventors are, by definition, failures. They fail far more often than they succeed. British inventor James Dyson was passionate about engineering, design, and vacuum cleaners. Yes, vacuums (there’s a passion for everything). In 1978, he became frustrated with the performance of the vacuum cleaners on the market that lost suction as they picked up dirt. The problem was in the bag: it got clogged as it sucked up dirt and, as a result, would lose suction. Supported by his wife’s salary as an art teacher, Dyson spent five years toiling on his idea, and on his 5,127th attempt, a working version of a dual-cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner emerged.

“I wanted to give up almost every day,” Dyson said. “But one of the things I did when I was young was long distance running, from a mile up to ten miles. I was quite good at it, not because I was physically good, but because I had more determination. I learned that the moment you want to slow down is the moment you should accelerate.




In long distance running, you go through a pain barrier. The same thing happens in research and development projects, or in starting any business. There’s a terrible moment when failure is staring you in the face. And actually if you persevere a bit longer you’ll start to climb out of it.”3
Most people would have given up after the first few fits and starts, but Dyson plugged away. He reveled in failure, because that’s what engineers do—they tinker, they test, they try out new ideas. They get a kick out of it. If you don’t get a kick out of something, then do something else, because the odds of breakthrough success are against you. “I don’t mind failure.

I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative,” Dyson said.

Dyson is so proud of his 5,126 failures that he memorialized his tribulations in a small brochure that comes with every vacuum cleaner his company sells—the Dyson Story. Although it took five years to build the product, that step was just the beginning.

Dyson would face multiple rejections from established global companies such as Hoover, whose shortsighted executives saw only the immediate profits they were making from the sales of bags for vacuum cleaners. Hoover executives passed on Dyson’s invention, even though they admitted that it worked nicely.

Dyson has said that anger and frustration are prime motivators—as is necessity. Since no company would buy his invention, Dyson sold it directly to consumers, and not in the United Kingdom but Japan.

The Japanese became enamored of the Dyson’s styling and functionality. The Dyson did eventually become a hit in the inventor’s home market and reached the rank of bestselling vacuum cleaner in the United Kingdom, outpacing the cleaners offered by manufacturers that had once rejected the idea. Hoover would later make a blunt admission: an executive said the company should have bought Dyson’s idea and crushed it so it would never see the light of day.

That way Hoover’s dominance would remain intact. For many leaders, innovation—new ideas that improve people’s lives—is not and will never be part of their company’s DNA.

A Forbes reporter once asked Dyson why a lot of companies say they want to hire innovators but end up hiring “company men,” people who had been doing the same function at other companies for years. According to Dyson:

The trouble is you have human resource departments and headhunters, and you have to fill out forms, and then they try to recruit people that match what’s said on the forms. I fight against it all the time, this idea that when you take someone on, you take someone on who’s had experience in your field. There’s a horrible expression, “hit the ground running.” I hate that idea. In some cases, they might be perfect for you, but in most cases, the person’s probably had the wrong sort of experience, and you’ve got to retrain them. So I much prefer to hire people straight from university, or people who have been working in another field but did some interesting work. It’s very difficult to get recruiters to think that way.

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