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From having several mentors at different stages in my life, I have noted two parameters that trend with age. This observation may be neither unique nor profound, but as a scientist, observe I must. The first is that as we get older, our bodies fail us. The second is that, as we age, our minds can continue to…


That awkward moment, when you thought you saved a draft instead of publishing it. My bad. I’d finish this train of thought, but well, my project went totally sideways, and took my “deep and meaningful” observation with it. But that’s life. Fortunately, one of those mentors I was talking about recently told me, “If you haven’t failed recently, it probably means you’re not doing what you’re meant to be doing.” So I’ll claim that as a failure, and we can try to learn from it.

As makers, hackers or simply scientist, failure is no stranger to us. In fact, we depend on it. It’s not the destination, but it is certainly part of the journey. Start-up investors want the business to fail quickly, if it’s destined for failure. Artificially propping it up will only increase the amount of resources and time that is wasted. Instead, they often want to let it go, minimize the cost of ultimate failure and quickly take what was learned and apply it to the next venture.

Wildfires are a type of failure. But if the wildfire fighters avoid failure at all cost, the undergrowth has time to build up. When a fire ultimately does break out, the dense underbrush causes the fire to burn hotter and become more devastating than ever. Small, frequent fires, on the other hand, clear out the underbrush, but don’t get hot enough to damage the established trees.

Our failures are similar. Frequent failures can be recorded (a.k.a. SCIENCE!) and used as stepping stones to larger, more epic successes.

I think I speak for all of us when I say Chatt*Lab is a place that we want to be a safety zone for failing freely. We’ll try to steer clear of the epic failures involving injuries and property damage (as much as possible). But your ideas are safe. They may not work the first time, heck, they may not work ever. But you’ll never know–you’ll never achieve that epic success–unless you take a few risks.

Come on out Tuesday at 7:00 to the place in the map…uh…down there somewhere. We’re getting ready to kick things off, and we want you to be there.

One Response to “Golden Age — Using Failure”

  1. Tim says:

    Jesse just coming out of the woodwork (get it?) with his demo last week is just awesome, and he really got it right in so many ways. Chatt*lab is an open field for Chattanooga folks to make it what they will. I hope others will feel free to step up and show us more things we just don’t know enough about. I so want a sharpening station after learning more about it. Now if we just had our electrical panel finished…

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