I talk a lot about ideals on the Fishbowl Inventory Blog. I’m always sharing ways to improve your inventory management and other parts of your business. But today I’m going to shift gears and talk about a strange topic: imperfection.
Companies don’t have to be perfect to succeed. People don’t have to be perfect to be happy. Success and happiness are often found as a result of trying new things and attempting to be better. Unfortunately, these two things sometimes result in temporary failure.
Yoda Was Wrong
Here’s an illustration of what I mean. In the film The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker doesn’t believe he can use the Force to lift his heavy X-Wing from a swamp, but he’s willing to make the effort anyway. He says, “All right, I’ll give it a try,” to which his mentor Yoda responds, “No! Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
I don’t agree with Yoda’s advice in this instance. After hearing this, Luke tries and fails to lift his ship, but the fact that he tried at all speaks volumes about his character. He didn’t think it was possible to do what Yoda was asking him to do, but he didn’t refuse to do it or claim it was a waste of time. He gave his best effort.
If Yoda is right and the only choices are either doing or not doing something, what do you call it when you make an attempt to do something, but fail? The task didn’t get done, but saying that something wasn’t accomplished isn’t the same as saying someone didn’t put forth the effort to make it happen. That’s where growth usually happens. If you could do everything right the first time, you wouldn’t need patience or persistence to reach goals. Yoda himself probably didn’t succeed the first time he tried to use the Force. But look at what he became through years of practice: a Jedi Master.
To Err Is Human
I hate to mix metaphors, but this also reminds me of baseball errors. According to the book Moneyball, baseball is the only sport that records a player’s failure to accomplish a task in a separate category from his other statistics. If a fielder doesn’t even make the effort to run after a fly ball, or if he is too slow to get anywhere close to the ball before it hits the ground, he doesn’t get an error. But if a fielder runs as fast as he can and makes a real effort to catch the ball, and fails to do so, he gets a negative mark against him. That makes no sense.
Ironically, errors should be seen as good things because they often show that players have many admirable qualities and are only tainted by a single flaw. Having no errors means a player is either perfect (which none of us is) or has never tried to do anything special (which is worse than failing).
The Only Mistake Is Not to Try
Mistakes are a natural consequence of reaching for greatness. As long as we keep doing our best and trying to be better, we’ll eventually find joy in our personal and professional lives. You can never tell what might be coming your way. “Always in motion is the future,” a wise alien once said. Just keep trying, and you’ll be amazed by what you can do.
The image of Yoda is the copyright of Lucasfilm.