Learn to fall
A view from Sue Unerman

Learn to fall

You have to learn how to fall. This is one of the themes of the international bestselling novel The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair. The twists and turns of the plot include the protagonist getting this advice from his eponymous mentor. No need for a spoiler alert – I'm not going to give anything away here. 

I won't comment on the book overall here, but this lesson is certainly a worthwhile one.

Jack Dee referred recently on Desert Island Discs to being called thick in front of the whole of his school by his headmaster. From his tone of voice, it seemed not unlikely that his subsequent career is partly based on proving the headmaster's hasty judgment wrong.

His lasting anger sounded like a catalyst for change. An ongoing need to push back and have a better, more successful life story.

Who knows what the catalyst is to turn your story round? Dee's story reminded me that I had a less public, and yet personally important, experience at my school, where I was the only kid in years 7 and 8 never to get a "good work mark" and therefore did not get my name called out in assembly by the headmistress.

Obviously much less of a public humiliation, as it is quite likely that no-one apart from me was aware of it, but character-forming nonetheless. It certainly focused my mind academically, as I went on to exceed my teachers' somewhat limited expectations.

The point about falling is the bounce back. Think about falling, diving or jumping into a deep swimming pool or lake. It is only when you reach the very bottom that you have the ability to push up.

So the next time someone critiques your work or what you said or did in a meeting, pay close attention. Make sure that you fully feel the emotions that may arise. Don't brush over the negatives, don't move on or forget it. Use it. Learn how to use the fall, to embrace the descent. At the nadir of the descent is the point from which you can push back up most strongly.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom