What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

For me, it’s Post-it® notes.

I love them. Ok, to be fair, I love all stationery, especially Post-it® notes; they’re so handy! I use them in all situations and always have some on my person!

It’s not just they’re useful though, they also provide me with a timely reminder when things don’t go as planned.

Post-it® notes were a mistake. They were born out of ‘failure’.

In 1968 Dr Spencer Silver, an employee researcher at 3M, was busily researching adhesives in the laboratory, trying to create a strong adhesive for the aerospace industry; All he ended up being able to create was a weak adhesive that could easily be removed without leaving any residue. Hmm, that didn’t fit the brief of an adhesive that was bigger, stronger and tougher than anything that existed.

What Silver had actually discovered was something called ‘microspheres’ which retain their stickiness along with a ‘removability’ characteristic that could be attached to surfaces and peeled apart easily.

For years, Dr Silver struggled to find a use for his invention and at the same time began promoting the merits of his creation to all his colleagues. Consistently, constantly promoting it until he became known as ‘Mr Persistent’. Yet, he still couldn’t find a use for his discovery,

In 1974, Art Fry, another scientist at 3M, was frustrated every Wednesday night whilst practicing with his church choir. He used little scraps of pater to mark the hymns in his hymnal for the upcoming Sunday service. Of course, by Sunday, all the little scraps of paper with his notes had fallen out of the hymnal.

He really needed a bookmark that would stick to the paper without damaging it.


He thought back to a seminar he’d attended on Dr Silver’s ‘microspheres’ and that’s when he had his ‘adrenaline pumping Eureka moment’.

He partnered with Dr Silver and they began developing a product. Originally heading down the route of a bookmark, it was when they found themselves writing messages on their new notes to communicate around the office that they realised the full potential of their idea.

This wasn’t just a bookmark, it was a whole new way to communicate!

In 1977 they released their product, named ‘Press’nPeel’ in 4 test markets and…………… customers really didn’t know how to use it.  The sales results were uninspiring and Press’nPeel was pulled from the shelves.

Fast Forward to 1979, 3M decided to give the product a second chance with the ‘Boise Blitz’ free sample campaign in a targeted market. They gave free samples to business throughout Boise, Idaho and 90% of businesses that received the free samples, re-ordered.

Today, 55 years after the original ‘failure’, there are over 4000 Post-it® products.

Back to ‘they also provide me with a timely reminder when things don’t go as planned’ – they are a daily reminder of one of the core presuppositions of NLP – There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

These presuppositions, or ‘useful assumptions’ of NLP have become the basis for how I live my life. They help me stay balanced and focused. They help me be a little bit kinder to myself.

What could you not live without and why?

What are the assumptions that you use for your life? How useful or helpful are they?

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