What Doctor Who Taught Me about Failure

I’m not a fan of Doctor Who but Laura, my 21 year-old daughter, is and that’s why I found myself traipsing around after her today at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.

Of course, any interest I had lay in the early reincarnations of the characters I knew as a child. And I now know that ‘reincarnation’ is the right word. I never realised, until Laura explained it to me, that each Doctor Who regenerates when he is mortally wounded or old. After the transformation they emerge with a new personality.

In real life, setbacks, disappointments and failures have – potentially – that same transformative power. But whether an individual emerges stronger or not isn’t always so clear.

To some, failure is a temporary obstacle; a station on a journey that will, inevitably, end in success. For others, failure is the station they jump off at, resigning themselves as somehow not destined to complete the journey. Essentially it’s one event viewed through two very different sets of lenses.

Lucky people, argues psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, are blessed with persistence. In this video you’ll see how Wiseman’s challenge with metal puzzles helps separate the determined from the weak-willed. Wiseman corroborates my earlier view that lucky people process disappointment differently:

“Lucky people tend to imagine spontaneously how the bad luck they encounter could have been worse and, in doing so, they feel much better about themselves and their lives. This, in turn, helps keep their expectations about the future high, and, increases the likelihood of them continuing to live a lucky life.”

It is really the ability to seek out the positives from any negative experience. Do this and you emerge transformed, wiser, more powerful. We’re all familiar with Nietzsche’s famous contention: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

I’m with Friedrich on this one.

And, as the Time Lord himself would put it, “Trust me, I’m The Doctor.”

Training and Management Books

With our publishing partners.