Failure is an option

No one likes to fail. Fear of failing at something is what makes most of us not try in the first place; and yet…

Think about those time you did fail and once you got over the initial shock, shame, embarrassment or whatever, didn’t you come out of it a little bit wiser? Didn’t you feel that actually that wasn’t so bad and next time I’ll know what to do differently?

More importantly, when you really think about it didn’t failure drive some inner creative urge that you might not even have known you had?

Failure, in moderation at least, is good for all of us. Whilst we should not deliberately set out to fail we should at least strive to try different things occasionally and not worry so much about the possibility of failing. You might even learn something new?

As blogger and author Hugh MacLeod says

For me, it [failure] always inspired me to do better, somehow. I never gave up. So this kind of adversity-induced inspiration sorta became my “muse” after a while.

How is ‘failure’ going to inspire you to do better?’


‘Experts’ or ‘Specialists’?

Is there a difference?


One label is often associated with behaviours of continual learning and exploration, enjoying the journey and always being open to new understandings, knowledge and understandings…

The other is often associated with behaviours of fixedness, wanting to maintain the status quo, even suppressing new knowledge and understanding…

The versatilist combines both behaviours: a specializing-expert and an expert-specialist…


Change your vantage point

The photographer Steve Simon in his book The Passionate Photographer has this advice:

“As we wander through life, we see the world from perhaps our most common vantage point: standing up, at eye level and at a distance from our subject that can be described as our comfort zone – not too close, not too far away. We need to shake ourselves out of our comfort zone and see how things look from different angles and perspectives – sometimes uncomfortable close.”

Just as a photographer or other artist learns to look at things from new angles, so too should we all try and bring a new perspective to the problems and challenges we face. Metaphorically at least, step closer or further away and ask what would happen if you looked at the problem from a different perspective? Sometimes this involves stepping out of your comfort zone, maybe looking at the problem from your clients or your protagonists point of view instead. Some things to consider about changing your viewpoint:

  • If I was on the other side of the table what would I be thinking of me?
  • What is the most important question I could ask to make this person know I am interested in what she wants?
  • How am I adding value to what this person does every day?
  • Am I exhibiting enough passion in my ideas or arguments?
  • In order to achieve what I want am I taking the right steps, fighting the right battles?

Maps and territories

The term versatilist was coined by an article in Gartner when writing about the IT industry…

..but could the article be touching a deeper phenomenon?

There is a phrase that goes along the lines of ‘ … the map is not the territory…’: your model (or anyone else’s) of the world is just a map of reality, of what-is.  The what-is-ness, ‘reality’, is the territory that can never be completely described, or mapped.

The Gartner article describes four different working domains: technology, information, process and relationships and claims fluency between them will be required for success: The Versatilist. If these domains are just different maps of the same (IT) territory, then the versatilist is someone who can skilfully work with different maps of the same territory.

So is versatilism merely a natural ability to work with different maps of the same territory?  In the same way that Google Maps has different maps of the same territory, the skill of a versatilist is to know which map to use when?

So, if versatilism as an ability, a skill, it can be learned: by identifying maps and territories and knowing the difference between them.