There was a time in the 90’s when a friend of mine was an executive at a $500,000,000 disaster of sorts to put the television on the internet. It was called TELE-tv, and I am forever grateful that my friend smuggled me into their studios from 11 pm to 6 am to sit with another young man and we were looking to learn alias power animator (or was it called wavefront?) because a seat of it and the silicon graphics machines they had were simply too expensive for my lab budget. One day I saw her and she asked why I looked tired and I replied I really didn’t know, “I have been in meetings all week…odd…I can sit in the lab for days and not be tired.”
“You are dealing with other humans. That will tire you out very quickly.”
“Yeah, there are so many meetings and such I have to go to and everyone has some idea or want, and then you get the egos involved and suddenly it seems like doing the simplest thing can take an enormous amount of time and effort…other people will make you tired if you are working with them all day?”
I thought about it, and she had a point, “I think you are right, I can sit in the prototype lab with engineers and we are never tired, in fact, it is almost the opposite, we are a bummed we have to go to sleep as we have all the idea unfold in front of us.”
Not much has changed on the planet since those days. I think social construct in the USA might be a bit more civil, as I still remember all but one football coach screaming at me, and the lower levels of corporate world were more screwed up than the few at the top. At that level, it was a bit of a fantasy land in how the c suite operated versus the normal rank and file worker. In the entrepreneurial world, you have a different mentality. Academia has its own unique operating flavor…what I notice is inside of each you have a way of working, and if anything disrupts or alters that plan, a lot of people tend to get freaked out.
“What do you mean, change? I have this all working exactly like I like it!”
“I understand that, but how do you propose we implement the directives and changes with the current system.”
The value of change, ideas, innovation, and failures is the magnitude of things that seem to go into a giant cooking pot. While in the perfect world you have an idea before morning coffee and are mass producing and selling millions by the night. This is a dream idea of mine, but the reality is I don’t really know if I have ever had one idea that popped out of my head and the final product was not altered, changed, modified, worked over, reworked, etc.
There is a phenomenon that really makes me sad on the planet in how few failures most of the population can accept, much less trying something new while requiring some ideal of no risk, effort, practice, or effort to get it. In sales, a basic rule of thumb is you need to see someone 5 times before you will get the majority of sales. I tend to agree with this basic rule of thumb…that means you fail four times before you succeed.
So why do people quit after thinking, “I would like to….” And then the idea just sits there, never attempted or used?
You can explain the fear of failure, the idea of looking stupid or imperfect to me, and I do understand the concept. I have been there before myself, paralyzed at times with trying, even though I still remember that the way to move a mountain is one shovelful at a time. The seeming overwhelming idea of all the tasks and shovels is enough to keep any sane persons from trying.
But it is each of those shovels, some are big, some are small, if you get lucky, someone with heavy equipment shows up to help you, some laser beams, or fun implements of destruction. But most of the time, innovation and ideas come with one or two people sitting in a room, trying, playing, and failing – each one a step closer to a solution that will work.
The problem with a lot of the world, particularly executives and distribution companies is that they are so laden with debt and stockholders wanting instant ROI, that building the long-term pot of ideas usually is not a top priority of most companies. Yet, it is this research and development that will provide the seeming innovation stew to keep producing great ideas for long-term growth.
There are many times I wish I had the funding of a large research group, but at the same time, I don’t know if money necessarily provides you with more solutions or a slower death? It appears the better mind and working environment happens when you are hungry to grow.
Having plenty and then thinking you will grow is more like the lessons I see with the people that made it to the top and seem to rest on their laurels. The old motto in rock roll was that you were only as good as your last record. But today…you have lots of people who did create some great music finding a market to pay top dollar for a trip down nostalgiaville. (Is that even a word?)
I guess this is why I really am likening two ideas we are working on…I am simply taking the parts from years ago and using them in a new way. Who knew? The irony is that the solutions might actually help some people with the idea of change and overcome the fear associated with the reality of how scary it is to sit still, look into yourself, and see all that is there…the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
Once you do that, perhaps humility seeps into your body and the deeper you go, the less afraid and insecure you are about what you see. In a strange sense, it becomes liberating.
The hard part is remembering that few probably took the time to do the same, and you have to be kind, patient and loving for someone that might be where you were not so long ago. That is the beauty of change and/or age. You grow.
The more you grow, the easier the idea of change and how to change happens. It doesn’t mean the process is any easier, it just means you are at ease with the ambiguity and rough seas that change can brings