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Friday, November 18, 2011

To Failure: A Club I Naturally Fit Into Daily

Chapter 9 of My Life And Times at Purdue University

This guy above auditioned for failure, er, The Failure Club that Morgan Spurlock spent 7 years trying to get on air. (So he turned to Yahoo!, now considered the epic fail of technology companies by those in the biz...but I digressed there.)

The point of this Failure Club is to attempt something that you will most likely fail at in 12 months. It could be trying to make the cut at a minor league baseball club, becoming a stock trader for Goldman Sachs, getting prepared for an Iron Man, or designing an app for Apple with no prior technology experience. The key is: you are not an expert in the area. You've dreamed of being that - or doing such and such - but have no real understanding or talent (you feel) to become that particular position, or in attempt of that feat of prowess outside of your usual humdrum life.

I can relate.

Twenty years ago, at 19, I was a really bad writer. Never obtained better than a C in any English course that was offered, since I was 16. (See: bad writing.) To this day, I have yet to achieve an A in any such course. Well, to my near future: I will be taking an English composition course this January. I will have to get an A (likely) to be admitted to the upper division of my real goal: Economics training with an emphasis on International Business and Political Science. (And completing a minor in Management, possibly Mathematics.)

Meanwhile, back at my batcave of failed projects, I am looking to publish several tomes I have sunk a great deal of time developing into publishable works. And more to the point: I want to be a publisher of eBooks for more than just myself. (Many authors, and hopefully, stuff to be proud I got into the knowledge base of this thing called humanity.)

The idea of failure has saturated my mind for a number of years. The concept of losing out - of doing something for no material gain - has to be one of humanity's more difficult things to accept. (And people typically are quick to remind you of such failures.) As Americans, we don't trumpet too much when one loses. We may console it a bit, but quickly move on..to the victors. Now, we love the underdog story - the fighting to achieve, and finally doing it - which technically is the process of failing. You got to start, figure it will be bad, during the first 100 or 1,000 cracks, to get to any level of completion of said dream.

Taking on a hidden dream - or doing something you are hardly physically able to do at say 35 or 40 years old - is quite scary. Without a support system, most will not even stay with it for more than a month, or two. Giving up is perceived (internally) to be a better end than looking like an ass. That is what we engrained in our brain from age 14-15 onwards. Social pressure. Conformity. Accepting limits.

Breaking Rules: A Path From Failure to Success
A few break that rule. To reach for a dream they think (or were told) cannot be theirs. To somehow overcome the naysayers, the "why don't you do something else" or " you got a family to support" crowd. Self-improvement books (by various authors) project most will give up before failing even the first time. That is the first barrier these rule breakers must reach in order to get their goals off the ground.

When these people get to "overnight" success, we say, "I wish I was that talented." (Envy.)

The reality is: you are that talented. Just the idea of failure is too much instilled in your hardwiring.

  • How many of us took up (or were ferried around) to a sport because we were considered good? (Your parents saw you do something good...and made that your skill to perfect, until...age 15. Field of Dreams die in the ivy.)
  • How many got music lessons because of that same process? (The first recital success...until age 18. Symphony and Rock aspirations shattered when you don't get 1st chair or a call back to play.)
  • Even academically, those that got good grades early, or gold stars, fell into the educational conformance trap. (I'll be able to do something profound with insert-your-degree-here later. Until 30, when you know you are not the cleverest carbon-based life form...Nobel committee will not be calling you.)

Once we got the 'final failure' notice, "we won't be doing that anymore," we gave up. (Most likely.) Moved onto more 'normal thinking' - jobs, cars, homes, relationships, kids, college, retirement, taxes, and death - and put aside our childish dreams. For those that pursued something, thereafter - a business idea, a tech dream, a sports talent, or whatever - they got the grief, but also, may have garnered the prize after thousands of hours of practice (and failure) in:

  • Learning to really do it. 
  • Making an internal difference on one's self. 
  • Successful thinking through persistence and spunk. 
  • And most of all, "I will not quit dreaming."

Now, I made a list of things I want to achieve recently.

Or attempt - that is what we need to be doing. Attempt it. Can't hurt.

But really, really attempt. That could hurt. You might even learn something about yourself you did not all ready know.

And that...is... life affirming.

You might know this guy?
He tried 10,000 times to get a silly light bulb to work. From that, we get the pleasure of night baseball, TV watching in the dark, surgeons that can see what they are cutting, and a world that knows his name: Edison, Thomas.

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