Falling For Failure

It was an ordinary sort of day. I was running some errands and I needed to fill up my car’s gas tank. So I pulled up to one of those self-serve pumps and as I was putting in the gas that’s when I noticed it.

Emergency stop buttonIt was fairly obvious as to what it was but what it really did wasn’t so obvious. The tag on it explained most of it but the real story was much more involved.

The real reason why that button was there was because of a failure.

That button is no doubt hooked up to the power that switches off the pump – anyone can see that. But how did it get there in the first place?

Someone experienced a system failure that’s how.

At some point in the past someone somewhere had a need to suddenly stop the flow of fuel from the pump to their car. The pump’s trigger wasn’t enough because the gas kept on coming causing a potentially dangerous situation.

A Good Thing When We See It

System failures occur all the time. Ever had a flat tire? System failure. Ever get a cold? System failure.

All systems evolve to become safer, more usable, and better for us because something went wrong and was fixed so that the chances of it happening again are slim to none.

In the human body we know it as the immune system. Provided it’s maintained in health it runs on auto-pilot. It takes care of all those buggy little invaders 24/7 without much intervention from us.

But in most man-made systems it takes a failure for us to notice the deficiency and to spark a shot of immunity.

With that flat tire, for example, the fix was to eliminate the tube. That way a small puncture my not cause that much air loss and you can drive to where you can get permanent help for it. I’ve had a nail in mine for the past week and it hasn’t lost anything. But, if  you need something more, there’s also a gooey black product that comes in a pressurized can. You simply inject into the tire and that inflates and seals it at the same time. At least you don’t get stuck on the roadside.

You get the picture.

Immunity happens because something was either weak, broken, or not thought of yet.

I’ll bet dollars to donuts that in your business you work to make things run better all the time. That efficiency leads to higher profits. Every time you spot a weakness – and fix it – the system gains more immunity.

So I say “hooray for failure!”.  If it wasn’t for failure we’d be back in the Dark Ages. If everything went perfectly all the time we might have some success but could we teach it to anyone else?

I don’t think so. Real success feeds upon the flesh of failure. Knowing what doesn’t work prevents the failure from ever happening again.

Some call that learning.

Ok, let’s spell it out loud together: “I-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y”.

Right on the button!

PS: Cool video from Honda about failures they’ve had.

Why Real Achievers Don’t Practice Positive Thinking.

Charcter is talking positive but does this change things?

Positive thinking is what this character likes to doAre you trying to change your life by thinking positive?

If you are you could be in for a big downer. In a post on his website the very successful entrepreneur Michael Masterson cites a new book by Julie Norem entitled “The Power of  Negative Thinking”. He comments that his long held belief about the in-effectiveness of positive thinking is yet again confirmed. “My belief that, though positive thinking may work for people who already have an optimistic way of looking at their abilities, it doesn’t work for people who are pessimists”.

The book has a reference to a study that was done where researchers divided their subjects (all identified as pessimists) into two groups. They told one group that, based on their past performance, they were going to do well on a standardized test they were about to be given. All these subjects indicated on a pretest survey that they did, indeed, feel optimistic about their results. The second group was not given any encouragement. The results? The first group, the temporarily optimistic pessimists, actually performed worse on the test.

I agree with Mr. Masterson.

For the past thirty years I have been telling anyone who would listen that the practice of positive thinking is a bit of a ball and chain. One shackle that already optimistic and successful people refuse to wear. Here’s the danger. If you get yourself on a big high about something that hasn’t happened yet you could be setting yourself up for serious disappointment.  Creating a mindset bolstered only by the practice of positive thinking is like a high rise built on quicksand. It’s unauthentic and downright deadly to your success in the long term.

Read moreWhy Real Achievers Don’t Practice Positive Thinking.