3 Hard Steps on How to Fail (you probably can’t do them)

June 12, 2013

I have many friends who cannot help but win. Everything they do seems to blossom, and sometimes I wonder if they might not be descended from King Midas in some ethereal way. Here’s how to prevent yourself from being another victim of Pervasive Success™.

1. Avoid things you’re good at

Being good at something takes effort, so invest your time into things which you haven’t invested time into.

For instance, ping pong. In any group there are two or three guys who are much better than anyone else, and one of those guys (Jon Fuller) always beats the other(s). (I did beat him once by mistake, and it was doubles anyway so it doesn’t count.) Ping pong is an instant fail. It is dangerous though because it is fun, and you might succumb to its lure so completely that you end up improving. Just a pro-tip there; you’ve been warned.

Personally, I have most of my programming experience with Microsoft technologies (C#, MVC, Visual Studio), so I am currently working on a project in Linux using Ruby, Rails, and PostgreSQL.

2. Look like an idiot

Ask stupid questions. Try “where do you keep the pens?” Also try hanging out with people who know way more than you so that you are always the newbie-est person in the group. Try keeping a crowd of accomplished and expert people around you. This will ensue that any subtle hints of accomplishment you may inadvertently pick up will always be drowned out under a barrage of Awesome™.

3. Work anywhere except SEP

During my first interview, I repeatedly asked Raman Ohri about professional improvement opportunities at SEP. And he said, “I don’t think you’ve been listening to me. At SEP we believe in learning. If you don’t learn: we fire you.” I realize now that it was a warning. SEP makes it really difficult for an employee to fail. I’ve been here for less than a fortnight, and I can already feel myself growing and improving. As they say, “You learn something new every day.” At SEP, it’s closer to 50 new things: often due to asking dumb questions and attempting things you’ve never done before.

Epilogue: Final failure

I guess I’ll fail at failing and try out some of the Pervasive Success™. Thanks SEP team for helping me become Awesome™ a little bit at a time.

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