The word for 2018 is…UNLEARN.

The only way to grow is to unlearn.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” Yoda

As I’ve mentioned more than  a few times, the last 12 months blew us away. It’s the old cliche of saying that if you could go back in time and tell yourself a year ago what was going to happen, your past self wouldn’t believe you. But it’s actually true. It didn’t sink it at the time about what we were doing. It still hasn’t, not really. 

Even as I write this, a week has passed since working on a preview screening of “Black Panther”, in partnership with the BFI, which was an experience we won’t forget anytime soon. Seeing so much black excellence in the room, as well as being the first time that we screened a film that hasn’t been out yet, well it was an achievement.

But here’s the thing.  I feel that although it’s great to recognise and celebrate achievements, the real danger is the ability to dwell on them. I think if I change my mindset to think about how huge the last year was (as well as the last week), and that we’re in a different space, etc, what I believe will happen is that we stop pushing so hard, we start getting complacent, perhaps we don’t put the same level of enthusiasm into the next project. 

That’s something I’m not willing to allow. Instead of learning this potentially fatalistic way of thinking, I’m going to do something else. I’m going to UNLEARN. 

A better way of saying UNLEARN is probably reset. I want to continue to recalibrate in 2018. I want to stay hungry and stay pushing, because as great as “Spike is 60” and “Black Panther” was, we need to keep evolving and getting even better. People who operate in the same space as us (i.e. our competition), aren’t going to stop, so we can’t either, despite this success. We have to UNLEARN.

It’s at this point, I’m reminded of the great football manager Sir Alex Ferguson who said that winning the title was the easy part; the hard work really started when you’ve got to that position – how do you stay motivated to keep performing once you’ve hit such highs? 

So it’s about the art of  UNLEARN; unlearning that previous success somehow predicts future performance. I refuse to let the achievements of 2017 and the first few weeks of the year deceive me into taking a back seat. Instead, it’s about mustering up the energy to go again. And again. To keep improving, to keep striving. 

Easier said than done, right? 

Maybe. But there’s one thing that can’t be UNLEARNED. That is, quite simply, why we got into this business in the first place. We wanted to tell stories through the power of events. We wanted to wow audiences. We wanted to work with the best creative talent this city and country had to offer. We wanted to create events we wanted to go to. 

That hasn’t changed. That will never change. That is the lifeblood of our business. 

We create because we can, because it gives us a sense of purpose, because we want to create a legacy for our children. 

As long as we UNLEARN the unnecessary and remember what matters most, we’ll be just fine.