You Can “Ring the Bell” Twice

Ever heard the analogy “unring the bell”?

It’s a phrase used to suggest the difficulty of forgetting information once it’s known. One example is when, during a jury trial, someone says something and the judge tells the jury to disregard the statement (because it’s not admissible in court).

bell, impression, first impression, failure, ring, ring the bell, business, tower

The phrase also has a business connotation. Think of first impressions. We’ve heard that old saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s similar to the “You can’t unring the bell.” A person’s first impression of us stays with them for a long time. It can impact the way they communicate with us as well as the opportunities we get (or don’t get) from them.

But the saying also sends a mixed message.

I admit – first impressions matter. And it’s true – you can’t unring the bell. But you can overcome first impressions. You can turn relationships around. It’s not easy but it can be done.

In today’s business world, we place a value on well-managed failure. Years ago, admitting failure was a terrible thing. Now, it’s okay to be transparent about our mistakes as long as we talk about how we overcame them. There are lessons to be learned from listening to Michael Jordan talk about the times when he missed the game winning shot. Or reading how Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, only to be hired back years later. Or Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, sharing her story of growing up in a family who encouraged her to talk about her failures.

These are a few examples of people who were given the opportunity to ring the bell twice. Yeah, they couldn’t undo the first bell ring. But they were able to move past it with spectacular results.

At some point in all of our lives, we’ll wish we could “unring the bell”. When that happens, we can’t give up just because we can’t take it back. We have every opportunity of moving forward and trying to “ring the bell” better the second time.

Image courtesy of HR Bartender


  1. says

    I love this, Sharlyn. Very well said.

    I’m a big fan of reflecting and moving forward.

    If you spend all your time thinking about what could have been you’ll drive yourself crazy over something you can’t change.

    It’s important to go all out and let the rest take care of itself.

    Thanks for sharing this (and keep writing).


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