Day 23,712: Making Myself Into A Science Experiment.
Just as I was having a text conversation (it’s how we increasingly communicate today) with someone about rejection, negative environments, and hearing “no” when you want to hear “yes,” this article shows up in email feed from The New York Times — Why It’s So Hard to Hear Negative News. Timing is everything.
The article asks what if instead of avoiding negative feedback, we could teach ourselves to crave it, to look forward to the lesson we are about to learn? Fat chance. Here’s why: Studies also quoted in the article unequivocally show that we’re not wired for bad news. We’re just not.
Still, there’s a big difference between negative feedback and a downright Greek Tragedy. Yet, too many times we go into situations truly expecting the worst, not just the mildly bad. The odds are much higher that we’ll just hear a little bad news, usually somewhat sugar coated and the purveyor of bad news is also not looking forward to imparting the tidings.
Looking for Luck in High Error Rates
What you were to learn after 10,000 days of living (if Malcolm Gladwell can be trusted) that it’s sometimes it’s luckier to be turned down than accepted. Sometimes a “no” is the best answer for our own well being. It may take days, weeks, or years to find out how lucky you were, hence the need for thousands of days and aging, but you will usually find out about more than one sand trap was avoided in your lifetime and how it was luck not to get the gold ring on that one trip around the merry-go-round.
My text buddy had just gotten a rejection notice about something and was about to be in a funk. I suggested that rather than rejection perhaps a “no” from a solicitation was better framed as trial and error. You try something, it doesn’t work, you learn to do it differently the next time. I think the problem most of us have is that we’re not trained as scientists.
There’s a famous story about Thomas Edison taking 1,000 attempts without success to invent the lightbulb. When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
I’m on day 23,712 of my life by my own calculation. I could say that I have failed more than 23,000 times to achieve the most perfect version of myself. It’s definitely true. My weight is too high. My memory is not as sharp as it’s been. My eyesight is worse than before. I’m told I snore.
I could also say that I’ve continued to wake up daily at least 23,712 times to get to the place I am today. The very amazing Crone Maya Angelou said that she woke up every day saying: “This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”
It was a wonderful way to start each day because it was absolutely, and irrefutably true.
So, in the spirit of Thomas Edison and Maya Angelou, I’m going to continue to hopefully wake up tomorrow to try another day. I will likely have a few missteps and make a few errors in being my best self. I will try not to beat myself up and not dwell on the error of my ways. Rather, I will attempt to figure out what I might try or do differently. I will consider myself my own science project and think about how I might yet reinvent myself. I will, hopefully, not create a Frankenstein!
Daily Focus on Gun Sanity: The definition of insanity is attributed to scientist Albert Einstein in error. He apparently never said it. The definition, however, is still genius. “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” Doing nothing to test new rules, regulations or change the conversation for stopping gun violence is insane. Doing nothing doesn’t work. Today, check out the daily stats from the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. 96 people die daily from gun violence. That’s an easy, sad fact to remember. Here’s one more thing you can do today. Sign up to get notifications from the Brady Campaign. Or, just commit the number 96 dead each day to memory. It’s one way to start using facts to improve the conversation.