Monday, June 23, 2014

Success, Failure, and Tradition

A quick post about my reality:

Success is attainable through failure, and tradition is a crutch.

I'm amazed at how many people think that they can envision some favorable outcome and attain it on the first try, flawlessly, with no course adjustments. This is as silly as imagining that a child can learn to walk simply by possessing the desire and some careful instruction. From my observation, anything even moderately complex and less automatic than breathing requires trial and error and the most important skill to learn is how to accept failure with open eyes and learn from it.

In fact, I'd suggest that a critical part of learning something new is attaining an understanding what failures led to WHY it's done a certain way and not one of a million other ways. Sometimes the answer is buried in history and in fact, there might not even be a great reason for doing it that way anymore. One warning sign I use as my gauge on when this may have happened is when discussing an issue and someone (perhaps even myself) cannot answer 5 whys. In short, precedents and tradition are convenient ways to avoid failures others have already learned from, but can also lead to the pitfall of "doing it the way we've always done it".

Being afraid of trying something new because it hasn't been done or "everyone knows" it isn't done that way and it "might fail" is not a way to be successful. To truly succeed, abolish fear of failure and replace it with fear of not learning. Additionally, take a look at traditions and understand why they exist and what they are really teaching.

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