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A “Sticky” Story of Failure and Persistence

Have you heard of Spencer Silver? Although you may not recognize his name, you will recognize his invention, the post-it note.

Love them or hate them, they changed the way we organize and do business up to this day.

Even though I’m mostly digital now, I still have a couple of post-it notes on the side of my laptop telling me to do this or that.

It’s an extra visual reminder for me.

I recently ran across Spencer’s story in a book I was reading and felt compelled to share it with you because ultimately, it’s a story of failure and persistence.

In 1968, Spencer was a chemist at 3M, and part of his job was to invent a bigger, stronger tougher adhesive.

What they came up with instead was an adhesive that wasn’t strong (a fail), but had the ability to stay sticky.

For years, Spencer struggled with finding a use for his invention, but he persistently talked about his invention and stayed focused on it.

It wasn’t until 1974 (when new management came in) that he was approached by someone about his product. It was still several years later before they developed the sticky note concept and even longer (1978) before they had a successful product launch.

The moral of the story?

There are a few.

Lesson # one.

Although the invention was a failure of what they initially wanted to do, Spencer had the foresight to see that there was an opportunity with his invention.

He didn’t get stuck in what wasn’t working. He was able to have a vision of something greater.

Lesson # two.

He didn’t give up...for 10 long years. I admire him for this. Persistence and from what I read, he believed that something greater would come out of his invention.

Lesson # three.

It took 10 long years. What would have happened if Spencer had sought out outside help, someone that could have helped him see his mental roadblocks?

Is it possible that he would have had success faster?

Although this story ends in success, I would like to think that with the right mental mindset, Spencer may have developed this product much sooner.

10 years is a long time to wait.

Maybe the naysayers got to him.

Maybe some doubt crept in.

Maybe he didn’t pursue it as passionately as he could have because he didn’t feel confident.

Maybe he was saying yes to so many things that he got distracted.

Maybe he felt as “stuck” as his adhesive invention.

How long have you been waiting to reach your goals, ____

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