The Latitude of Failure

We had a HUGE snowstorm this past weekend, actually we didn't but we were supposed to.

In fact, I have talked about fear marketing before, the idea of this storm was so bad there were people leaving the gig I was playing drums at in order to "beat the storm home." 

Or they were polite enough to say that instead of the alternative, which I appreciate. 

That said, each of us woke up on Sunday morning to a storm that never came, there also weren't any mass firings of weather people for getting it totally wrong, why? Because we have come to understand that in that line of work, especially with a Great Lake involved, getting weather right can be extremely difficult and that gives them the latitude of failure. That latitude allows the industry to test new modeling software, play with new video equipment, and experiment in the wonder that is the weather patterns of the planet Earth.

When you put it like that, sounds like a pretty amazing job eh? 

This past weekend something happened in the NFL that has never happened before, all four road teams won their respective wildcard games and in the process, a fair amount of sports pundits got a lot of their picks very wrong.

Again we did not witness heads rolling on Monday (unless you went on Twitter but that thankfully, is not an accredited HR department) and life in the sports world carries on. Why? Because we actually enjoy when we can beat the sports pundit since it allows us to seem both more intelligent (read lucky) and that his or her job becomes seemingly attainable since you just beat them at it.

This industry, like the weather industry, allows for some complex modelling along with the impossible task of working in the fantasy football angle in order to create a product that you as the consumer return to week in and week out to see who got what right. Because in sports broadcasting you live or die by your next HOT TAKE. 

The hotter the take, the more interesting the broadcaster.

I am reading a book right now called "Wired to Create" which got me thinking down this path of failure and how we might all talk about it butrarely embrace it the way they do in weather or sports. That isn't to say that I am naive enough to think every business can itself, or allow its employees to recklessly explore every idea that surfaces. 

But what if you just allowed yourself to? 

What if you made it your mission to be wrong, a lot. What if you woke up every day and tried something you weren't absolutely sure would work? You might at this point be thinking of the famous Edison quote about the light bulb and how many times he failed in order to create it, which is fine - but seems to have been used so many times it has become trite or at the very least a business platitude that lacks the intention you need to fail. We all need to push a bit harder to be good at failing. 

If you want to grow, you have to fail. If you want to get smarter you have to be the dumbest human in the room. If you want to win, you guessed it, you have to be willing to lose. In this month of failed resolutions what if you started one that allowed you to fail, instead of forced you to succeed? 

Why do only 8% of people who make resolutions stick with them? Because most people give up once they fail at them, game over. But if that was part of the process - no if that WAS the process, what would success look like? In the same reason you don't train for a marathon by starting off running one, you don't learn a new skill by starting as an expert.

Be wrong in 2016, it will be the most empowering 12 months of your life. 

Eric HultgrenComment