The word “failure” has a bad rap. Not rap, as in, the latest tune on the radio – which all seem to horrible as I much prefer the ‘old skool’ hip hop like Public Enemy, De La Soul, etc.
De La Soul – classic hip hop
Don’t Believe the Hype
And not “failure,” as in training to muscle failure ala Mike Metzer style where you get bonus points for going even beyond failure – however you do that . . . I really don’t know.
Failure, as in, you did not reach the goal you wanted.
“Fear is the mindkiller” –Frank Herbert, Dune
I’ve seen many people so afraid of failure that it has prevented any action.
They are so afraid to make the wrong choice: broccoli or beans, chicken or fish, pop tart vs. a bagel, squats vs deadlifts (deadlifts win, of course), metal tunes vs. emo (is that really a contest at all?).
They strangled their poor neurons to death and drained their entire decision energy by safe agonizing the next decision . . . which leaves them as incapacitated as a sloth drinking kava tea with a melatonin chaser.
Lack of segue here . . . It will make sense in a few paragraphs.
DARPA – not that exciting until you realize is a robot driving the car
Several years ago, I did a presentation for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) – the uber smart military people that literally invented the intranet and GPS – like for real, despite what Al Gore says.
Upon entering, it was abundantly obvious I was in the midst of absolute next level thinkers in that room. Seriously… I’ve been very blessed to attend and present at conferences around the world, meet many very smart people and call several of them close personal friends. I have dozens of PhDs, MDs, RD, coaches and other alphabet soup letter propellerhead-wonks on speed dial. Yet, I’ve never in my life been in a room where I honestly felt like I was the dumbest person in there. It was amazing.
And yes, I have done research on millimeter-wave exposure on thermal effects
as part of my MS degree.
Once I got over my spellbound feeling inadequacy, at the break after my talk, I asked one of the guys there what was the fastest way to get fired?
I did not want to know what you should do as that can be very specific to each persons background experience; I wanted to know where that line in the sand so as to not cross it.
I asked him what was the #1 thing to do if you wanted to get fired.
His answer was “NOT showing failures.”
What? I did not expect that. You mean they want me to roll out all of the failed experiments that were conducted when they ask for an update?
“Yep” he said, “They expect you to fail because the problems they are working to solve are very very hard and you are going to fail. It is a given. However, if you can show what you learned from the failures then you have learned something new and are thus closer to a solution.
If you are funded, money is not an issue. You can get more money. Showing that you are spending too much time thinking and not testing is the fastest way to get fired. Test, learn, repeat.”
I thought that was a massively important lesson, and one I have worked to apply in my life and with my clients too.
Perfect is not the answer.
Spending 40 more hours without trying is not the answer.
When applied to creating client programs, no matter how good you get, you will not hit everything 100% dead nuts on with the first program. If someone tells me they do that every time, they are either
2) have worked with 2 clients and got lucky
3) suffer from crushing Dunning Kruger.
A better goal is to get close and then tweak it based on the client’s feedback.
No failure; only feedback.
Hit me up with your thoughts,
PS – A corollary to this is to fail forward as fast as possible. Take action. Time is ticking….