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What did you learn in 2016? I learnt how to be wrong

I’m woman enough to admit when I’m wrong. When I’ve made a mistake. When I’ve had a lapse in judgement. And I’m woman enough to say, 2016 was full of them. I’ve spent the last two years telling the stories of my Pacific brothers and sisters, so I thought I’d share a private snippet of my own.

It turns out, it takes a lot more than an eager spirit and a keen mind to win in business, let alone in life – a gem I had to learn the hard way.

I had big dreams, and set out to accomplish them with not much more than a tank full of determination. In the last 12 months, I set out to:

  • Recruit professionals (who were also good friends) as business partners
  • Run an internship program with 13 talented people, while working two full-time jobs
  • Test a bunch of new storytelling methods with little evidence that it would work
  • Tell more Pacific stories in a format that I was not ready for (so I’m not the Oprah of the Pacific after all)

And guess what? I failed.

Shame, shame, shame…ugh!” were my initial thoughts. Repeated over 6 months. Don’t get me wrong – my ideas were bright and achievable – and I’m not saying they can’t be done if you’re inexperienced. My mistake didn’t lie in what I did, but rather, how I did them. I naively went about my way cheerfully assuming good intentions would automatically lead to success.

My marshmallow heart took a few good hits, not to mention my ego, and of course my self-confidence. What good could’ve come out of all this?

Lessons. Many of them. And each of them were golden. I did a lot of growing up through the refining fire of those experiences. I learnt:

  • How to be assertive. Letting go of a team member was not my finest moment. I accept that I dealt with it as best as I could at the time, but in hindsight I now know that friendship and business is a fine line that only few relationships are made for.
  • To appreciate what works. Why reinvent the wheel in business, when the data clearly tells me who the growing talanoa tribe is? They are the people who are interested in the Pacific, and the stories that flow from the lives of it’s people.
  • Amazing new skills. I’m decently engaging in front of a camera. I can build a neat website. I can create, deliver and edit digital content like a boss. I’m managing a thriving freelance business. I’ve built great relationships with creatives, journalists and writers in the media industry across Asia Pacific. And while there’s always room for improvement, my editing and writing is better than ever.
  • To be clearer than ever on my vision for Talanoa, and how to make it happen. I’m no longer looking for external validation or motivation. I’ve learnt that the most powerful source is within myself, and my belief in a higher power.

Among these glimmering pearls of wisdom, there is one reward I hold dear, and will continue to refine. It’s maturity. It’s priceless, and I’m thankful that I earned so much of it in 2016. It makes the memory of my mistakes less embarrassing. What mistakes did you make in 2016? Did you learn lessons you’ll never forget? I’d love to hear about them. I’m wiser for the mistakes I’ve made, and it’s my hope that you are, and always will be – wiser for the mistakes you’ve made too.

Let the wisdom of our past drive us into a future that is brighter than ever. May we work hard, prioritise well and deliver like the bosses that we are – from the heart of the Pacific – to where ever in the world you are. I hope to Talanoa with you, our Pacific, through it all, in 2017.

Lolomas,
Arieta x

Photo credit belongs to my lovely friends Matt and Kate from Mindfoodly, who are on a mission to end eating disorders, by helping people rediscover what it means to be healthy, eat mindfully and love their bodies.

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