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Youth Leadership

Hayden Taylor: 3 tips to help you overcome failure

By Hayden Taylor, Managing Director of Unloc

With the new year in full swing, young people across the Commonwealth will be setting new goals, ambitions and plotting their own pathway to success. Everyone defines success differently - whether that’s securing a new job, setting up a business or doing well at your studies.

But what is universal, is that achieving success is rarely a straightforward journey like Hollywood movies want us to believe. The journey is often laced with barriers and pitfalls on the way and it rarely pans out exactly how you imagined it.

However failure, in itself, is not all bad. Failure can, in fact, teach you a lot about yourself - your strengths, weaknesses, perspectives on life. It can also provide invaluable life experiences that will shape your future actions. It’s how we embrace failure that really counts. We all need to develop our own coping strategies for dealing with that failure; this is truly essential if we are to have the ability to brush ourselves down and continue on our own journeys to success.

Hayden Taylor image

Hayden Taylor founded Unloc to empower young people to be changemakers.

OK - so why am I talking about this, you’re wondering? Well, over the past five years, I’ve worked really hard to set up my own non-profit social business, called Unloc, in the UK. We run programmes for young people across the UK to develop their skills and leadership potential. I’m really proud of my organisation and the journey we’ve been on - but it’s been a rollercoaster to say the least. I’ve had my fair share of failure on the way. Setting up and running a small business has brought with it enjoyment, excitement and fun - but equally - tears, tantrums and difficult days.

I remember feeling pressure as a leader, as the Managing Director of my organisation, to constantly uphold a strong exterior in front of team members, volunteers and my board when I faced an element of failure. Over time, i’ve built my own approach to deal with my own failure, that has enabled me to be more open and honest about my experiences.

It’s worth saying that everyone’s strategies to cope and deal with failure will be different, we will all develop our own approaches over time. But here are three practical strategies that I have found really useful and I hope will help you with dealing with failure in 2019.

Hayden Taylor, CEO of Unloc, shares advice on dealing with failure.

1. Find an informal mentor. This isn’t a formal arrangement focused on sharing knowledge. The type of mentor I am talking about can be a friend, family member, colleague - anyone really that is willing to openly listen and support you either in person or over the phone, particularly when you hit a stumbling block. Informal mentors are great for providing an outlet for honest conversation and reflection - one of my biggest personal achievements was being able to truthfully open up to others about how I was feeling, something that having a mentor has enabled me to do. Mentors should focus on listening to mentees and asking open questions that help the mentee work out their own solutions or next steps, rather than providing solutions or advice.

2. Focus on (and consistently remind yourself) of your end goal. Remember where you started and where you’re headed. When we hit a hurdle, it’s easy to over-analyse all the small things things that led up to that point. Instead, what often works for me, is reflecting on (and recognising) how far I’ve come and constantly reminding myself of the end goal I’ve set. It sounds silly - but one way I do this is setting a picture that represents my end goal as my phone screensaver! Positive reinforcement works.

3. Create a lessons log. OK - in my video that accompanies this blog, I talked about my pocket notebook that I use to record and remind myself of the key lessons and learnings from my past five years. It sounds overly geeky and cheesy, I know. But a lesson log doesn’t need to be. Put simply, a lessons log is about finding a way to reflect on the learning that failure offers, and using it to your advantage - whether that’s written down or not!

I’d love to hear what strategies others use - feel free to tweet me on @HaydenTaylorUK. On that note, it is time to wish you a happy New Year and a successful 2019!


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