Insight: Sept 19

This week, Janice Petersen guest hosts Insight and looks at the concept of failure.

How does it feel to lose everything? And what does it take to bounce back?

Failure – we fret it, we shun it, and we question ourselves whenever it happens. But can failure be a blessing in disguise?

In 1993, legendary Socceroos skipper Paul Wade became the first footy captain in 20 years to be axed from the national team for a bad attitude. Paul says he was humiliated – but admits it was the wakeup call he needed to improve his game.

Facing up to failure isn’t always so simple. Showpo’s Jane Lu quit a coveted corporate job during the GFC to start her first business, but when it failed, she was too embarrassed to tell her parents – even though she lived with them.

“I just pretended to go to work every day for six months”, Jane tells guest host Janice Petersen on this week’s episode of Insight. “I put on my suit … I carried around an empty laptop bag.” Jane didn’t tell her parents the truth until years later when she’d well and truly bounced back.

Failure can also put things into perspective.

In the late 1980s, Mal Leyland – one half of the famous Leyland Brothers – set out to build a theme park, complete with a scale replica of Uluru. The brothers saw it as a legacy they could leave behind for their families, but instead they lost everything in 1992 when skyrocketing interest rates left them both bankrupt.

“People who I thought were my friends suddenly no longer contacted us”, he says. “Suddenly we had some sort of disease, so it seemed, and we were on our own.”

Mal tells Insight that hitting rock bottom helped him appreciate the important things in life.

A personal failure is difficult enough, but doing it in the public eye is another challenge. When Nahji Chu’s successful food outlet MissChu suddenly went into voluntary administration, she felt like “Australia is actually now celebrating my failure”, she says.

“I didn’t want the public to see that a Vietnamese person and a Vietnamese entrepreneur and a Vietnamese refugee had failed.”

Tuesdays at 8.30pm on SBS.

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