HEAD OF STEAM
Monday, October 12, 2020
Peeling back layers of defenses and resistance used to pack away completed projects, abandoned adventures, or brilliant ideas that never launched deserve a review.
I mean, looking beneath our veneer, an in-depth analysis, revealing what went right, what went wrong, or why a possibility ebbed away.
Analyzing success is often too-easy superficial self-aggrandizing, but more consequential if we dredge deeper. Done too soon, residual euphoria impacts perspective and clouds our ability to critically judge our experience. Complete digestion comes best or is best saved, for months or years later, breaking down elements, revisiting activities, considering all actors in the situation, and appreciating both great executions of procedural steps and the importance of timing. Astonishing, how often some combo of simple basic things led to and completed a successful adventure – proves much of the fancy footwork was either not required, or its value overstated. Surprises and nuance were often more significant than first-blush impressions indicated, and seizing opportunities when they arose proved magical and essential. Luck is a factor, but it’s most frequently all the other good things done well, which carry the day. I’ve often found, looking back, that my best successes contained many solvable or avoidable errors. The rearview mirror approach reveals many lessons if we take the time to look.
Analyzing failure is less fun, but theoretically more valuable. It’s Monday morning quarterbacking what we would have and could have done, or rather a ‘regression SWOT analysis,’ inevitably reducing to data what we knew in our gut. When we’ve failed, we knew it was coming, and either didn’t or wouldn’t do what was required to avert failure. There are lessons here, but do we follow them? Or do we repeat them?
Analyzing what went right or wrong on ‘things we didn’t do’ is where I fall down. Proposals I never got to present, or never got past their first daft – and calls never made. The letters I never wrote. The calls I didn’t return, or the ‘between the lines’ things I knew but ignored.
You see, the first two are relatively painless, and the third one is discomforting …
Never shining or withstanding tests in vigorous debate, big ideas should not wither in drawers where they never grow legs, never inflate their lungs with a head of steam or a breath of fresh air.
Meetings with exciting and critically important people don’t happen – in part, we don’t try. In part, we tend to aim at the wrong person in an organization and because it takes hard, dull work too, rather than entirely exciting creative work. Bold ideas atrophy in silence and vanish in the darkness. They become, lamentably ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda …’
Have a great thanksgiving, great musings today I feel thankful indeed, AG, Cancun, Mex.
Happy Thanksgiving to you Mark. Our Thanksgiving will be a day like any other. Work to be done to prepare for winter. Corrals to finish cleaning. Cows to gather to prepare to sell calves. Downsizing paperwork in preparation of retiring at end of year. Fear that no one will come forward to rejuvenate The Echo and take it into the new unknown. But our age and health says it is time for change so change will come. I am grateful for the love and guidance given by family members no longer with and grateful for our kids and grandkids even though they will not be with us this year. We can Facetime or phone and look forward to 2021 bringing new opportunities, DW, Oyen, AB