Following on from the vid earlier this morning, the question of failure is an important one to look at.
Bill Whittle: The idea that you can’t be losers is a catastrophe. The Self-Esteem Movement has made the most unhappy generation of kids in this country’s history.
Interviewer: They’re heavily medicated, they’re suicide prone -
BW: They’re suicide prone because they don’t know how to deal with failure, they don’t know how to deal with frustration, they don’t know how to deal with anything other than optimal results instantly because it’s all they’ve ever been given.
The win means nothing [to you when you've never experienced failure first]. The point about competition is not winning but in processing failure. You should be a loser because if you can process failure, then you will [subsequently not] be a failure.
What this also gives you is a sense of perspective, of your place in the world, what you can do and what you cannot and more than that – accepting you’re not cut out for this but might be able to do that.
It’s one thing persevering and I’m a great believer in it, particularly with the vicissitudes of this boat, in going that extra little bit against the storm and being further ahead at close of play than you were at the beginning – it’s a learning curve, you get smarter, you do things in a different order second attempt.
Last Friday, about 4 p.m., when we had our own Michael Fish vicious wind and rain combination come through and rip down my whole structure above, it was time to go in and have a cup of tea, come out again and rebuild stronger. It’s still up but one end has come adrift a little.
It involves assessment – the damage is not sufficient to deploy time as yet to repair. The canopy itself is torn in places and does let in water and that is impacting the build, so the solution is another canopy for £40. Doing what has to be done.
It’s one thing persevering but it’s another to be foolhardy, to tilt at windmills and confuse this with perseverance. This is what idealism and ideology is all about – it is the triumph of unrealistic hope over reality and finding a better way, sometimes laterally.
In the build, if it is too hard, beyond your skills and resources, don’t do it. Design something simpler – maybe not as classic but still nice and infinitely easier plus it gets you on the water earlier. Failure teaches managing your time better, you order your day better and appreciate that allocated time with people even more.
Failure hones your view of success and gives you better criteria by which to measure ultimate success. You may have to move the goalposts a bit. For me, as long as the boat is reasonably straight and completely sealed, strong below, then I’ve succeeded. The cosmetics can be done at my leisure.
Parents and teachers really do need to allow their children, by degrees, to experience real life, to develop mechanisms to deal with it. Today, it’s either the extreme of porn and drugs and the whole nasty sleaze kids are wallowing in or else it’s the opposite extreme of being hermetically sealed away from any harm, unable to fail, unable to succeed.
How many firms have formal and informal reviews of why things failed and can do it without pointing fingers at scapegoats? The answer is those which succeed and will continue to adapt.
Part of that is ethics, which comes back to Bill Whittle’s third pillar of conservatism – virtue. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering State University of New York at Stony Brook wrote:
Often, a deficiency in engineering ethics is found to be one of the root causes of an engineering failure.
An engineer, as a professional, has a responsibility to their client or employer, to their profession, and to the general public, to perform their duties in as conscientious a manner as possible. Usually this entails far more than just acting within the bounds of law.
An ethical engineer is one who avoids conflicts of interest, does not attempt to misrepresent their knowledge so as to accept jobs outside their area of expertise, acts in the best interests of society and the environment, fulfills the terms of their contracts or agreements in a thorough and professional manner, and promotes the education of young engineers within their field.
Bill mentioned conservatives being hypocrites and said yes they are – the performance and behaviour do not match the targets. But that’s no reason not to have the targets and attempt to achieve them.
That then gets into tolerances, something well known in the engineering field. Part of that is increased knowledge.
Example – the windows to the boat, arriving today, I was going to epoxy in. No, I was told – acrylic is rigid, the boat, even a stiff hull, flexes within a certain range – resulting in a split window. Answer is polyurethane glue which flexes. Also along the way, I learnt that epoxy, not being solvent based, will not eat acrylic. I fed that back to the window man and that’s how knowledge expands.
There’s a wealth of material like that based on principles based on failure analysis – someone else’s earlier failure.
My maxim – don’t fight it, learn from it.