Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pi Approximation Day


Today is 22/7 in international dating, which is Pi Approximation Day, a day to celebrate failure approximations of success. Because failure is just success rounded down.

On the surface, it sounds like a silly idea, but it actually contains some nuggets of wisdom: some people have a lot of things that they want to do, but they never try, because they are afraid of failing. Eventually, you have to realize that when you start doing something, you are going to suck at it, but you also have to go through those first stages if you ever want to get good at it. In the meantime, you have more experience than those people who have never tried.

The most obvious example here is in athletics. Suppose that you are not a very athletic person, and never have been, but you want to join your school's cross-country team. You show up to every practice and every meet, you try your hardest... and you're just not very good. Perhaps you are the worst on the team, the one they give the "Most Improved" trophy to at the end of the season. Now, if you really want to become good and win some races, you could continue running every day for the next year, and compete with next year's cross-country team. But even if that doesn't interest you, you are still a better runner than you were before, and you are probably in better physical condition than you were before.

Ze Frank has an excellent video on this subject. He calls these ideas we never use "brain crack," because they provide us with some kind of comfort when things get rough. He goes on:

"Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone's clapping for them. But the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do 'em. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you're almost guaranteed the first time you do something it'll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who's still dreaming of all the applause. When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, 'cause I certainly don't want to be addicted to brain crack."

So, today, I suggest you do at least one thing from the following list:
  1. Think of the things you have done in your life that you failed at and/or weren't very good at, but that you are better for having tried.
  2. Go and do something that you have thought of doing for a while, and get that brain crack out of your brain. (This blog happens to be my own attempt to rid myself of the brain crack.)
  3. Approximately eat pie (perhaps by smearing it all over your face), or eating an approximate pie, such as a tart or a quiche.

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