Monday, May 4, 2009

F Is For Fail: A guide, a story about Sweden, and a video.

from Veer - check the video here, I can't embed it. BB Blog

The video really has nothing to do with my guide, which is about having fun while failing, but it's still a well designed video.
So lately, I've been doing some thinking about failing, the American work ethic, and living the good life. I recently took out one of our Swedish office visitors and grilled him about what he thought of the American work ethic. In fact, he was in the car for less than 4 minutes before I demanded that he tell me how many days he takes off, if it seemed like Americans were working too hard, and what he thought of all this. He tried to politely change the subject but anyone who knows me knows that when I want an answer to something, I'll think of 80 ways to ask the question if I have to, get them drunk if I must, lie, cheat, and steal to get it. So he concedes after 20 min or so that yes, it seems like we work really hard and that we have some really great companies as a result. Then he showed me his pictures of skiing in the Alps with some Russian billionaires.
I don't really know any billionaires. Particularly billionaires that invite me skiing in the Alps and I attribute this to the fact that I don't take a lot of time off to do things like that.
I was going to write this guide about failing by embracing your learning process but I actually want to write this guide about how to break your own uptight rigid rules about failure.

Admit it. You blew it. Then start over. Some ideas and projects are just not great. Allowing that the whole thing is just awful lets you start over vs. tweak a flawed plan to death until its passable. I think we try to avoid panning anyone's idea in an attempt to not sound like a naysayer, it's how I think the new Geico commercials got produced.
Be late. I know that there are places not to do this. Like meetings. Don't be late to work meetings but there is something to be said for fashionably late. failing at your weekend plans is delicious. Dinner plans with 9 people? Be an hour late. Movie with a friend after drinks on Sat? Drink through your movie. Sometimes it feels like the weekend is the same as the week but with different kinds of meetings and it feels good to break them when you can.
If you fail at one thing it might mean success somewhere else. For example, for my Swedish friend, failing at his American work ethic allowed him to ski the Alps. Success! It seems like the places that we set strict rules and goals are the places that we tend to focus our success on. For me, and I suspect a lot of people, that's the workplace. If we are passed for a promotion, lose a client, or miss a deadline, that's a failure and I agree that it's not great but think about what would happen if you set goals like that in your personal life. Where would you have more fails? I mean, I failed at skiing the Alps without even knowing it.


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