“Get Better” – Fail

October 22, 2011

In the spirit of Getting Better – I’ll inaugurate this blog with the SEP Blog Battle. The title for this week is one near to my heart – “Get Better”, so I’ll jump right into it.

Though not exactly a new idea, I thought I would express my love for failure. I don’t mean the kind of failure where you’ve introduced a breaking bug into a piece of client software and your phone is ringing off the hook with angry, angry users. I’m talking about setting out with the intention of trying something new or pushing what you think you can do. There’s little that gets me more motivated than trying out something on Programming Praxis or another such site and having my solution not work.

Why? I get to learn something new. I get to tear my best laid plans apart to find out what’s wrong – effectively breaking my toys. I get to try and try again until I get the satisfaction of victory, and then I get to look at other solutions and dig through to try to find an even better way to do things, and there’s little more humbling and enlightening than discovering that your solution that you fought tooth and nail to reach is terrible compared to what someone else came up with in an afternoon.

Just be persistent and open. Accept your defeats and you’ll learn from them. If we all gave up the first time we got a build error, a unit test broke or a run-time error occured, computers, the light bulb, you name it wouldn’t exist. Persistence is the key in getting better, and so, if you have problems getting started use some means to visualize your progress. For complicated tasks, roll your own Kanban board. For simpler tasks, like practice start up a Seinfeldian Chain (a little known wonderful motivation technique), and try not to break it.

So go ahead and be the worst; build some breakable toys in a technology you’ve never used before. Solve problems no one has asked you to solve; write your first blog post. It doesn’t matter what – just do something and at the end of the day, learn all there is to learn from your successes and your failures. Just approach whatever you do with an open mind, and when the potential loss is minimal, take that extra risk with only knowledge to gain, and in the end you’ll walk away a smarter and better person.

Edits for grammar and to remove Word formatting…