The Courage of Failing Publicly

When I was in high school, I once refused to do something that my friends were doing because I knew I wouldn’t like the outcome. When pressed about how I knew and asked “Have you ever tried?” my response was this:

I don’t have time to learn from only my own mistakes.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the notion that in order to know what will and won’t happen one has to personally do all the dirty work of learning.

Knowing this about me, it’s less surprising to hear that I’ve spent a lot of time lately encouraging those around me to “fail publicly”. It’s not an easy call to make, of course. No one likes being wrong, let alone being wrong where everyone can see you. The idea behind it is this: if something doesn’t go as planned, and others can see it, then they can help find a stronger solution.

But there are two chances for discomfort here that I rarely, if ever, acknowledge. Boldly doing something in front of people while knowing that it could go badly is a clear risk. It doesn’t matter what that something is, public imperfection is terrifying. The other discomfort comes after that, though.

Failing publicly has no benefit to us, although it still might to others, if we are not able to learn from it. Growth is never something that comes easy and, if we aren’t open to the idea that something needs to be fixed, personal growth can be stopped in its tracks entirely.

I work on projects that, when done well, are intensely public and open. I have made so many mistakes during my time working on them and witnessed even more than I have made. I didn’t start out with the willingness to share my failings and I think that other people could have learned from me… even if I couldn’t have learned from myself at the time.

So… Note to Self – Do what you can with what you’ve got and let people see where you don’t have what it takes. Someone else might have exactly what is needed to get the job done.

Baby It’s Cold Outside, an Update

I really do love this particular holiday song. However, as I got older and started actually paying attention to lyrics, the creep-factor really couldn’t be ignored anymore.

Enter this charming adaptation from Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski. Listen without the guilt and, if you’re feeling the holiday spirit, consider purchasing the track to benefit the Sexual Violence Center and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Election Results 2016

 

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Everyone has really strong feelings about last night’s outcome. I’ve seen posts ranging from anger and betrayal to joyful exuberance. Embrace the freedom of speech we have here and learn how to open your mind to understanding. The path to a brighter future necessarily has to include us all, whether we agree or not, and we won’t get there by refusing to listen.

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Clarity in Creative Planning

Last year my mother gave me a Happy Planner for Christmas. When I first saw it, I thought to myself “Self, that organizer is too creative for you.” It had these large, blank boxes (three per day) and a single week took up two full pages. Down one side is an area for notes, but it mostly just looked like a giant way for me to not know what to do that was interesting enough.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was no longer as creative as I once was. I don’t paint anymore, I don’t draw. My linocut materials have been gathering dust. I no longer scour datasets for fascinating patterns. Even my knitting/sewing/fiberworks had fallen by the wayside. I took a Sketchnotes class in the fall of 2015 and couldn’t bring myself to litter my notebooks with my now terrible drawings.

And so it was that, armed with stickers and encouraging words, I set out to use this creative planning method.

My first few weeks months were fairly uninspired. I wasn’t sure how to use so much space. I felt like I had forgotten how colors work at all. For some reason, I got incredibly caught up in the concept of foreground and how to make that work with an organizational method.

Organization foregrounds. Great.

It wasn’t until the end of April (that’s four months, my friends) that I finally got my mind around the whole thing. I learned how to make my weeks function as a unit. I discovered that if I put in my standing items at the beginning of the week, I could add as I go. Importantly, I realized that everything can get better (or re-learned) with some practice. You get things wrong when you start something new. That can be discouraging (or embarrassing, or frustrating, or horrifying), but it’s not insurmountable.

I now use this awesome planner for remembering what has gone by as much as I use it to remember what’s coming up. The sidebar tends to hold a small note-to-self from the week; sometimes a thing to focus on as I go and sometimes a lesson I learned while I was in it. The habit of physically writing down what I want to do, what I actually did, and what to focus my mind on is satisfyingly grounding.

It’s equal parts catharsis and clarity. Who wouldn’t want that?

The Three Most Difficult Words

According to Denise Lance, “I need help” are the most difficult words for people to say. In her poignant TEDxKC talk, she explores the inherent issue with placing such a premium on the concept of independence.

For people who work with me often, they will know that I am very quick to ask what help others need. I’m much less quick to ask for that help in return. I’ve never thought of it as a fear of looking weak or incapable, but there has to be something to that. This talk caused me to wonder if, by refusing to admit we ever need help, we end up protecting ourselves from the judgements of others but ultimately from a deeper connection with people who aren’t like us. In the end, isn’t everything that we use as a shield just that? A shield?

Shields down, my friends. Time to make a connection.

Painting Plants

 

In the “you had one job” column, I submit to you this poorly painted white line. This was almost entirely painted onto the grass which… I guess is okay, because the road is not well-traveled. Unless you’re that grass. If you’re that grass, then you’re suffocating.
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The Pepper Release

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WordPress 4.6 has been released and its name is “Pepper”. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out you can pop by WordPress.org to download a fresh copy or update directly from your dashboard. There are a lot of nice updates to it including a streamlined plugin and theme update process.

Get to updating, but remember to backup first.

Fireworks

It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always love fireworks. This display is glorious and I wondered, for the first time ever, where fireworks designers/technicians practice this stuff for timing without people seeing it? Do they just have the science and math so well in hand that they can just plan and play without rehearsal?