Thursday, December 21, 2006

Because I'm Too Impatient...

to wait for my literary composition correcting simians. Here is the first draft of my article for my work newsletter:

Failure. What a word. A loaded word, fraught with fear and embarassment. Whether you are an over-achieving toddler, spawn of a wall-street shark and a botoxed new york fashion maven, trying to get into the very best kindergarten; or you are a mechanic working on say, a nuclear submarine; or even if you are a delightfully whimsical brain surgeon, plying your trade, the failure is a loaded word.

We even avoid saying it. "Success challenged", "Otherly talented", "Adjusting modalities". Anything to avoid pronouncing it, like a last name that resembles an unmentionable body part.
And yet, if history has taught us anything (even though CNN argues persuasively that it has not) it's that great sucesses are usually spawned from the most appalling failures.

Take Winston Churchill. He had a little mishap called the Battle of Gallipoli, which led to the death of some 40, 000 men. Forty. Thousand. That's like taking all the runners of the Sun Run, and accidently directing them to say, Highway 1 (granted, even if they were in cars, that'd be a sketchy situation at best). That's the population of a small town: barbershop, hunting lodge, oddly popular crepe house and all. And yet he is hailed as one of the more revered leaders of Britain.

In fact, human history is littered with spectacular failures. It's only through our selective focus on the positive that we don't remember them as such. Thomas Edison, apparently, tried a thousand differnt ways to get the lightbulb to work. Now, I'm not sure about the rest of you, but if after my third try at getting something to work I'm pretty much going to put that endeavour under the "Impossible to Do" column. If I haven't taken my motivation pills that morning, the Number Of Tries Until Abandonment is closer to two.

And then there's Col. Sanders. Yes, he who -- depending on your poltical slant -- either started the most heinous trans-national multi-million dollar empire for killing chickens, or the dapper Southern gentlemen who changed the world for the better with eleven delightful herbs and spices. He apparently tried to sell his recipe to restaurants, going from city to city, and was rejected eight hundred and something times. That's a whole lotta managers telling you "No" over flapjacks and the morning rush.

Now I'm not positing that all great successes had dismal failures. But the law of averages tells me (a useful law that can be used for so many things, baseball statistics, gerrymandering, baking) that the more you try and succeed at stuff, the higher the chance you'll eventually fail. And if anything is pretty clear, its that the great successes tried many, many times.

So what does this have to do with all of you folks, sitting there, reading this delightful reborn newsletter. Well, if all goes according to plan, this letter should be out late January. Also known as the New Years Resolution Abandonment Time. When all those bright eyed idealistic Resolutions get abandoned on the Road of Life. Perhaps to fend for themselves in some Road Warrior like reality, complete with a younger, less-anti-semtic, less crazy Mel.

They are abandoned because you, at some point, failed. Experienced failure. Well the good news is that, given the law of averages, you are not alone. The bad news is that you will in all liklihood decide to wait until next New Years to give it another go. May I be so bold as to suggest you give another go sooner? Embrace failure. Try and see if you can get to 1000. I mean, where would be if the likes of Thomas Edison, Colonel Sanders, and Winston Churchill gave up? We'd all be sitting in the dark, eating bland chicken, and speaking some germanically based language. And I dont' think any of us want to live like Governor Schwarzneggar.

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