My management professor presents articles at the beginning of class that are recent and pertinent to the business profession. Last week he showed us this article, featured in the Sept. 29th Fortune Magazine, about the president of Disney-ABC networks Anne Sweeney. In the article she describes the most useful advice she was ever given. She says that it did not come from anyone she knew, but instead she describes a trip to the farmer’s market during a long weekend in San Francisco. She says that she saw a piece of steel etched with a quote, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” She says that it stopped her in tracks and she goes on to offer some useful advice.
As someone who is entering the job search during this time of economic uncertainty and having just written an article about beginning the job search for this issue of Platform, it struck me as pertinent to the job search. Who would I contact if I knew I wouldn’t hear “no.” Would I call that agency I am dying to work for? Maybe.
More than that, it reminds me that the worst thing we can hear when we ask for things or approach things is “no.”
Sweeney goes on to talk about how she always wanted to paint, and after reading the quote she started painting. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, Sweeney says, she’s just doing it. Sweeney goes on to say, “What matters is you experience it as if you could not fail. It speaks to big dreams, innovation, challenging yourself, and pushing to create what’s next.”
I believe perception is what drives us. If we ignore the perception of failure and push forward with all of our dreams, then we can not, will not fail. If our expectations are reasonable, if we can dream it, we can do it.
I like to think of public relations as one of the most innovative careers. I think that we need to use this “will not fail” approach more often.
Most PR campaigns are teeming with research to back the methods that they are suggesting. Simply making the why behind everything “because we cannot fail” is insane for practitioners and students, like myself, who want to have logical explanations for everything that we do.
I think we as people and as public relations students, educators, and practitioners need to think less about the why and how and more about the instinct and feelings behind what we do.