Monday, July 9, 2012

Winning by Failing Big

At the risk of jumping the shark (and for those of us old enough to remember where that saying came from let's just try to forget the Fonz was involved in that debacle....) I cannot let this idea go even though July 4 is well behind us now.

This clip might be old news for everyone, but it shows a new vantage point on the epic failness from the San Diego fireworks show of 2012. In it, you can see all three barges shooting all of their fireworks off at once. A technological disaster. A King Kong sized mistake. Disappointing? Yes. But there is an epic flipside - people might remember a nice fireworks show, but they will NEVER forget this one.

This clip brings thoughts about failure up to the front of my mind. I am never far from the specter of failure. In fact, I have an odd affinity for it.  It's like an old friend. Failure only becomes an old friend when you run enough risks to get to know it. Failure is a teacher, and sometimes it teaches some brutal lessons.  It's only after you survive those lessons a few times that you realize those lessons were really for your benefit. Friends tell you the truth. Failure does too.

Failure is not the same as fear.  Fear tells you lies about what you can't do, but how does fear know for sure?  Failure tells you the truth and has the facts to back it up.  Failure may be humiliating and feel cruel, but at the end of the day, if you are clear about your limitations you can regroup, readjust and come back stronger.  Fear is the real enemy, not failure.

Our associations have to get more comfortable with the idea of failure.  Making changes and proceeding in the face of fear is scary.  But we have to remember - there is an alternative that is worse than failure. See, there are three outcomes waiting for you when you step off the cliff. You can jump and success may sweep you up and carry you to your rewards, or failure may hug you close and teach you an important lesson on the way down. But the third outcome is the worst. The third outcome is when you jump and realize it's not a cliff after all, it's a curb.  You tried to jump but you were tentative, "safe," and then nothing happened at all.  That's when "meh" turns it back on you and truly makes you feel like an idiot.

So, if you are going to take a run at something, really take a run at it.  Go for it.  Run fast, jump high and aim to land in the arms of either success or failure.  If you are going to fail, fail BIG.  Go down in a blaze of glory.  The biggest failures can actually be so fantastic they seem like a win in the end.  Don't make a halfhearted attempt at something and let fear drop you in the lap of "meh."  Because that is the worst place of all.

Yes, the San Diego fireworks display this year did not go as planned.  In fact, I've never seen anything quite like this.  Expectations were dashed.  People were disappointed.  But they will never, ever forget what they saw.  And THAT my friends, is an unexpected WIN given by our friend failure.



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