“Take on Me” by A-ha is just a failed song at number 137 in the charts from 1984.
Or it is?
“Take on Me” is a song that could have easily remained a failure. However, something important happened and in the parallel universe as we know it… the song is actually a timeless sonic phenomenon listened to over 1 billion times by people around the world!
How did the idea rise back from Flop to Phenomenon?
The first release in 1984 was indeed a flop and the execution failed. Despite the failure, the idea was still deemed beautiful in the eyes of its beholders. But it required guts to protect it from the inner critic that wanted to knock it off just because it’s been knocked down.
It required #humility too to be able to say ‘we could’ve done it better’. And so, everyone who contributed to the creative process, from the band to Warner Music, came together again to deconstruct their steps, find weak decision points, and sprinkle their love for idea with logic. This resulted in a great example of success-through-iteration; the idea was improved and both the song and the video released again in 1985 to, one day, epitomise one of the most popular, never-ageing tunes of all times. Talking of embracing #feedback to improve your #success rate!
On route to success, however, there was another challenge. A critical piece in victory, namely #time.
Take on Me, the second version, wasn’t an instant hit. On the contrary, it took four slow agonising months to reach no 1 in the US. That’s 3000 hours of mind in perma-trepidation-state of “will it/ will it not…” with the voice of #self-belief whispering a whimpering “give it time”… which finally arrived on 18 October 1985.
Overnight success is a myth.
It’s an alluring but an unhelpful phrase. It’s more like a thousand nights, endless hours of intense collaboration, creativity and courage.
7 things I learnt from Take on Me:
1) #Love your idea unconditionally with warts and all
2) Create a mental boundary between the #idea and the #execution
3) While ideas need love, #iteration needs logic
4) View rejection not as the final stop but as a #step to success and see if it changes your thinking
5) Show your idea (and team if you have one) some TLC through thick and thin
6) Deconstruct it to find what’s not working, chunk it down and re-assess each idea component, keep what’s great already
7) Give people time to get used to #new ideas
What are your lessons on how to turn failure into success?