Teacher and Mentor Lionel Blue passes away at 86

A few years ago I published a post following a ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4 by Lionel Blue. Sadly Lionel Blue whose reflections are always worth listening to has passed away. The post is published again below.

Ever listen to the BBC?

One of the sure indications of the graceless slide into middle age is that you spend more time listening to BBC Radio 4 rather than Radio 1. And for many years now my day has mostly started with either John Humphrys or Jim Naughtie interviewing (or rather interrogating) politicians of the day on Radio 4’s flagship The Today Programme.

Why should you consider tuning in too?

Well, everyday at roughly 7.45, a few minutes are devoted to what is called ‘Thought for the Day’. During that slot a guest speaker will try to give us a pearl of wisdom, often with religious overtones, that will set the listener thinking for the day. It rarely works for me, but every now and then there is a real gem, often provided by the wonderful Rabbi Lionel Blue.

Last week the rabbi was up to his normal standard and was talking with refreshing candour about some of the failures he’d had in the past.

Lot’s of people speak of failure, but why is Lionel Blue different?

lionel-blue-635x357His tone was one more of celebration than of regret, and in each instance he was able to talk openly about what he’d learned from the slip-ups he’d made in his marriages and education.

“Make friends with your failures – they may be the best teachers you ever get.”

That’s a direct quote from the rabbi, and to my mind it can provide us all with an important lesson:

I have talked to a number of people recently who have had a disappointing outcome in an interview process that appeared to be going well. These disappointments or failures may seem hard, but is all part of the process by which we get where we want to be.

How should you respond to failures?

Being rejected for an opportunity where you thought you had ideal experience is likely to encourage a response of frustration and maybe even anger. But how on earth can you possibly hope to learn from these circumstances? Here are some tips that may help:

#1 Secure feedback

Swallow your pride and try to secure feedback from the decision-maker. Make it easy for the person giving you feedback: assure them you won’t be offended and advise them it is important for you to understand where you may have gone wrong.

#2 Avoid being defensive

When given feedback that is potentially negative our natural inclination is to justify or defend. This makes it difficult for the person giving you feedback to be open and honest with you. Rather than being defensive, embrace the feedback and try to find out why the person thought that way.

#3 Check with others

If you are given feedback that surprises or you are described as having features that you are unaware of there may be value in checking with people that know you well as to whether it is possible you could come across that way. Again, embrace the observations and encourage the person giving you feedback.

#4 Evaluate

It is important to remember that feedback is an evaluation of your performance in particular circumstances; it is not judgement of you as an individual. These situations give each of us an opportunity to see ourselves through the eyes of other people. By evaluating our performance we may be able to change it, improve it and secure success in the future.

What do you think?

If you’re open to sharing your experiences and thoughts on this, or totally disagree with what you’ve just read, why not get in touch on 07525 857389 or ricbandrews@gmail.


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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