Create margins of error


I’ve been having a “conversation” with one of my Facebook friends this last week about a suggestion I seem to have created. That we ONLY learn from our mistakes. This has been taxing his optimistic nature I suppose.

Of course the truth is that it is entirely possible to learn from both successes and gains. But how many of us in the flush of some amazing breakthrough are arrested by success long enough to reflect upon its probable causes?

Speaking once, I pointed out that often only after serial disappointments, we come to a point of view that “I have nothing to lose”. Wouldn’t it be so much more powerful to risk everything while we DO have everything to lose? Isn’t that why we admire pioneers such as James Dyson, because he didn’t wait till he was empty to try his chances!

If we have to be desperate before we invest last ditch energy and commitment, our chances of success are slim. Successful people therefore learn to harness the human tendency to work to deadlines by creating a premature sense of urgency called strategic goal setting. I love what happens when we set early deadlines contingent upon other early deadlines because then we create margins for error, for reflection upon potential successes and even the everyday! And, of course, we create margins of error for error!

Take my last Sunday’s bonus call. It was a failure!

For me it was a first attempt following my book’s publication to virtually gather people I know and others I don’t. They would hear from me, the author about the story of Disentangling Genius and the principles I see in it for escaping Seven Knots of Frustration.

For good reasons I chose not to use my usual telephony platform. That meant despite testing there was some insecurity in me about how things would work. I made the mistake of relying on registrants to send me their Skype address in advance. Despite advertising, I didn’t reiterate that the meeting was in a specific time zone; one unfamiliar for 75% of the callers. And of course some people inevitably forgot about the call which was outside of my control.

That afternoon, just before the fated call, I had finished watching the film Source Code. I had thought as an ice breaker to talk about the film’s resonance with the idea of Disentangling Genius!

In the thriller, Captain Colter Stevens is sent on a mission to avert the detonation of a bomb on a packed commuter train to Chicago. Repeatedly Colter finds himself sent to the same point of time for a frame of 8 minutes in the re-run up to the blast. In each play-through he learns, slowly at first through trial and error and on repeat increasingly through deduction and inference and the power of hindsight.

Each time he becomes sharper, closer and closer to cracking the code as to where the bomb is and who is the bomber. Each reiteration brings its own complexities and nuances. The film is a fascinating insight of how life can be a subject of design or default and the messy mixture of both it often is.

Wikipedia references “source code” as programming primarily used as input to a process that produces an executable program (The input has to be compiled or interpreted).

Isn’t that like life? We execute a code we have been programmed to play out. However, the beauty is that within that frame, we are free to deduce, interact and experiment and therefore influence and impact. This is why some people consider source code an expressive and artistic medium.

Now that sounds like something I want to play through a few times! And so we see that we learn from our failures and our successes but only if we create the space to re-play and reflect.

Test me and see if I have improved on last Sunday’s mission and Disentangle Your Genius in 2015

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