The Formula for Guaranteed Failure

Time to Read: Just a minute

Time to Listen: If you can be bothered!

The Formula for Guaranteed Failure 

Decide what you don’t want, give ownership of your life to someone else, and then, and most importantly,

do absolutely nothing.

In your life, your failure never happens by accident, it always comes as a result of you following a specific process, an exact formula. You have the right to know this formula and, when you apply it knowingly, your failure will be inevitable:

  1.   Have no clue whatsoever of where you want to Go – Focus every day on what you don’t want.
  2.   Make up excuses for where you are Now – after all, it’s not your fault… (It’s “the organisation” / Government / “them” – or, ideally,   all of them)
  3.   Know what you have to Do, to stay exactly where you Are – Discuss/debate/disagree (think a lot, talk even more).
  4.   Don’t Do it! – It’s all far too risky, tiring and pointless.

And if you do take action – by mistake, or if you are taken in by one of those silly leadership books…

Ask yourself: Does this action take me closer to where I or we want to Go?

If yes – stop it, now, before it becomes a habit. Erect your own barriers, fast, and then blame them.

If not – you had a go; it just didn’t work out, give up and go to bed.

Kiss Goodnight




  • Liam Roake

    Absolutely brilliant article.
    Has had me thinking I really have to do something with my life, before it is too late.

  • Ryan Norris

    Absolutely agree, doing the opposite, bluffing, is the way to get people to act.
    It’s like telling a child not to do something, they will always want to go and do it.

  • Harry Peake

    Silly leadership books, there is one that i have read that certainly isn’t silly!
    Wonder which one that is!

  • David

    Thanks all – and special mention to Jackie Witney our Creative Consultant who enjoyed amending our Formula for Guaranteed Success Diagram! David

  • John Ashcroft

    Hi Rosalind & David,

    I’m working on the next GUILDFORD MEANS BSUINESS magazine in time for the GMB exhibition at G-Live.

    I’ve just read today’s NAKED LEADER WEEKLY. It’s brilliant. Can I have permission to repeat it in the magazine, with contact details of how readers can sign up to it?


  • As always a very straight from the gut blog entry from you. I like it.

    About three years ago I wrote an article on why IT projects fail…….see below

    Funnily enough as we track site visits and metrics it is evident that the word “failure” got 4 times as many clicks as any other article with positive headings like “success, delivered on time & budget etc”.

    What does that say about people’s interests and instant draw to the word “failure”

    Our target audience for the newsletter was middle management and we used to email it to 3000 companies every month…..and every time we used negative words in headings we got a lot more visitors!!

    Have a great start to the week.

    All the best,

  • simon leppich

    Great article and great timing. At something of a cross roads in life, for various reasons and where as I am not totally sure what I’d like to do, I am fairly sure what I don’t want to do; not a bad first step. Have also given my son and my neices similar advice when thinking about careers “try lots of things, even for a few days unpaid experience….at best you’ll find something you love and may want to do for the rest of your lives, alse you might just confirm a suspician you already had that you never want to do that thing again”.


  • Robert Hunt

    A thoughtful and highly accurate piece. The best way to know what the future holds is to shape it yourself!It is far to easy to go for the “comfortable” option or to allow the status quo to continue without thought or challenge. I like the allusion to self-erected barriers- how true.

  • Robert English

    The diagram is superb. So well done to Jackie! The complete opposite of what it should be to make people think. Genius.

  • Boris Cahn

    From the gut entry, love that too.

  • Harry Peake

    Isn’t that the lesson here, that we are able to shape our lives and map out our own futures?
    That is the key. Deciding what we are going to do before implementing it.

  • David

    Thank you all for your comments here, by email and in person. The Formula for Guaranteed Failure is proving an unexpected success, which means I need to start erecting some barriers now… 🙂

  • Howard Williams

    I have found many people are also quite keen to help you in this formula, as it makes them feel better!

  • Maurice

    Love the delicious irony of having a successful article solely about failure.

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