I was chatting to an entrepreneur the other morning and he said to me that all he needed to run his business was a smart phone and post it notes. I then told him the story off the post it note and thought I’d share it with my readers. It definitely tells a story where failure is never final and indeed can lead to true success.
The key point I am offering through my own story is that many stories of success are also stories of great failures. There are many examples of people who met failure but bounced back by learning from their failure.
Let me share someone’s life history with you. He failed in business at 21 years old ; was defeated in a legislative race at 22; had another business failure at 24; overcame the death of a loved one at 26; suffered a nervous breakdown at 27; lost a congressional vote at 34; lost a senatorial election at 45; failed in an attempt to become vice-president at 47; lost a senatorial election at 49; and was elected president of the United States at age 52.
This man was Abraham Lincoln.
He was someone who would never accept failure as being final. now let me show you this concept from another angle.
So today I want to tell you s story I’ve always enjoyed. One that tells me that everything we do leads to results, whether the ones we want or not. Our interpretations of these results and our reaction to them can lead us to a life of success or alternatively keep our feet stuck in the quick sand of failure.
So let me tell you the post it notes story. You all surely know what the post it notes are. It is a booklet of sticky little pieces of square yellow paper that are found stuck all over the place, like on computer monitors, kitchen fridges, walls behind desks, and I’m sure 100’s of other places. The beauty of them is they can be removed without leaving any damage. The Post-It notes was launched in 1980 and ever since has become common place in offices all over the world. I read that there are over 50 billion post it notes pads produced every year.
In 1968 a scientist working for 3M developed a reusable adhesive that didn’t have great stickability. In fact he intended developing a super strong adhesive for use in the aerospace industry to build planes. So instead of a really strong adhesive, he made a mistake and ended up creating a low tack adhesive instead. The glue he created could hold paper together, but wasn’t strong enough to maintain the bond when pulled on. His name was Spencer Silver.
Basically he made something exactly the opposite of what he wanted to achieve. Instead of creating a strong glue he made a weak one, yet he was able to determine, eventually, an incredible use for it.
For years he struggled to find a use for his invention, claiming the merits of his creation to unreceptive colleagues.
“I got to be known as ‘Mr Persistent,’ because I wouldn’t give up,” he said.
In 1974 he was approached by a 3M colleague, Art Fry, who had heard him talk about his microspheres at a company seminar.
Fry had been in church for choir practice, grappling with a regularly occurring problem with his hymnbook, when he had his “eureka moment”regarding the way Silver’s microspheres could help.
During his Wednesday night choir practice, Fry would bookmark his hymnbook with pieces of paper — but by Sunday morning they would have fallen out.
“I thought what I need is a bookmark that would stick to the paper without falling off and but not damage the sheets,” he said.
For a long time the management at 3M still didn’t think the product would be commercially successful, they rejected it for 5 years but Silver was persistent with his belief in its potential, and as they say the rest is history.
Eventually in 1980, after extensive market testing, 3M released the product on to the market. From that point, the Post It Notes were unstoppable. The Post It notes story, one of ultimate success was born from a failure, like so many success stories both before and after. just more proof that success can certainly come from failure.