Posts Tagged ‘Mythbusters’

I recall watching an episode of The Mythbusters (yes, I am an unapologetic and rabid fan, now enjoying it in reruns) where Adam Savage – Mythbuster and cohost with Jamie Hyneman (the hirsute Hoosier) – was intensely recording data from one of their typically unique experiments (it related to the possibility of Jack and Rose surviving on a wooden plank left behind in the detritus of the Titanic, as I recall). In the middle of capturing the information, Adam looked up at the camera, flashed one of his signature impertinent grins and espoused the following:

“The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.”  

“Wow!” – I cried out immediately. “What a great quote!” And, is often the case with my unusual thought processes, I found a corollary between this insight and endeavors in our careers and lives. Here is why I say “Write It Down.”

Writing it down makes it real.

Experts tell us that journalizing, committing thoughts to paper, recording ideas and impressions is extremely helping in focusing, working through alternatives, reviewing, revising and considering options. When it makes the trip from between your ears to appearing immediately before your eyes, it becomes more genuine.

Writing it down makes it active.

Now you have something to look at, to argue with, to challenge and revise, retrofit, even throw away and start over. As it bounces around in your mind, it is more likely to stay in the subjective realm. That “thought” staring back at you on a piece of paper or on a screen challenges you to do something with it.

Writing it down makes it measurable.

You’ve made it real. You’ve made it active. Now you can take action and see if it works. When our thoughts remain our thoughts (for most of us, at least), it’s difficult if not impossible to tell whether they will work (or are working) or not. Write it down with a number, a timeline, a date, some kind of benchmark to revisit what you’ve done and decide whether or not to continue or, if necessary, write something else down and go with that!

So the next time you have an idea, formulate a plan, consider a course of action, etc…. Write It Down!

Thanks, Adam!

Ready to increase your vocabulary (as in Readers’ Digest “Increase Your Word Power”)? Here’s the definition of counterfactual (n): a conditional statement the first clause of which expresses something contrary to fact, as “If I had known.”.

In his excellent book If Only: How to Turn Regret into Opportunity, Neil Roese describes the two directions wFail Hashtaghich counterfactual thinking can take, explaining why the Bronze Medal Winner at the Olympics is happier than the Silver Medal recipient. Even though Silver is #2 in the world in their sport, they focus up to missing the Gold while the Bronze recipient focuses downward to see what they have accomplished (I almost didn’t medal)!

Here’s the Career Application: this “downward” thinking causes the Bronze Medal careerist to be better equipped to learn, to develop insights, to challenge themselves to greater accomplishments, while the Silver Medalist (without the benefit of downward counterfactual thinking) may find themselves in a self-defeating “woulda, coulda, shoulda” spiral.

Let’s close with a few timely quotes on Failure:

“There are defeats that carry with them the radiant promise of coming victory.” – F.W. Boreham

“We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. “ – Robert E. Lee

“Failure is always an option.” – Adam Savage, Mythbuster

“Make excellent mistakes.” – Dan Pink (via Johnny Bunko)

So, the next time you “fail,” think downward!