I like stuff.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Failure.

A guy I listened to for a long time once said something along the lines of "even if you do a thing a few times and fail at it, you still have that much more experience than someone who never did." (heavily paraphrased, but I'm hardly in the mood to look up the direct quotation right now. Those familiar with the guy will have the idea jogged loose enough to know what I'm referring to, and the exact wording isn't really important to this anyway.)

The thing is that I've spent the last year discovering that that man was either deluded, or a liar.

Nobody cares about how many ways you've discovered to fail, and most of the time, it's next to impossible to learn anything from them anyhow. There's just too many times where things go to crap due to circumstances outside your control, how do you learn from those?

Or are we supposed to have this eternal optimism that the next time will be better if we just haul ourselves back up by the bootstraps, don a fresh shit-eating grin, and try to convince the world of whatever?

It's why I'm not in sales. I hate marketing my ideas. I'm tired of having to sell them to people. I do enough of that at work every day just in bullshit office politics to have to go through the same routine when I come home at the end of the day.

I have never claimed to be a good leader, and I know I'm not one. It's rather well-known that I admit to being at least as clueless as everyone else, and the nature of my character is to try to keep everyone happy. Anyone that's tried leading a group for any length of time might recognize what a trap this is. Except in exceedingly rare circumstances, there's just not enough of a shared vision that a group can naturally point the same way. (No great sponge migrations, if you catch my meaning.) Even when the goals are the same, there's almost always certainly someone that doesn't agree with the means to reaching that end. Try to keep a disparate group like that "happy" and you've got a recipe for paralysis. You don't make decisions. You juggle addressing one person's gripes to the next trying to keep everyone happy.

And you put up with the bullshit people lay upon you for being a bad leader. And you try to account for the fact that most people have an attention span that's shorter than a television commercial break. And you try to account for not even believing in your own leadership.

So why am I writing all this disconnected gibberish now? Well, it's this sort of mental noise that I've had running in the back of my head for the last year. See, back in 2006-2007, that guy mentioned above, one Ze Frank, had this daily videoblog thing, and contributions from the audience were highly encouraged. It built up a sort of a community of creative weirdos around it. Which segued into a site called The ORG, a loosely related website of those same creative weirdos, which suddenly went dark on January 1st 2008. Some of us that felt it was an important time/place/mix of people/whatever decided that sudden shuttering should be accounted for, and while everyone else was busy looking for each other's contact info and making lists and whatever else, I went off and registered PostORG.org, signed up for a monthly hosting plan, and then laid it on the rest of the group as a new space that could serve as a waypoint while something to replace The ORG could be built.

Fun fact: Its highest traffic day was the day that Ze mentioned it in his blog. I was so wrapped up in the cause I didn't even care that Ze credited its creation to someone else. Traffic-wise, it was all downhill from there.

So without making this into a full history lesson, it's been over a year, the site is basically dead, I've spent months beating myself up for feeling like I failed everyone, and you know what, I'm done.

I've been trying to decide for a couple weeks what I should do about it, and the truth is, there's nothing to justify keeping it around. I can save the money I spend hosting it. The couple posts on a busy week in the forum will certainly find a new home elsewhere. I can put it behind me.

What finally pushed me over the edge was an unfortunate idea collision on another website I'd started. A week after I tried to get it going, a friend of mine started up a very similar project. Except he inspires people where I do not, so I know that his would be the one to succeed (I've already had several people ask me if I'm going to participate in his.)

I know I am not the leader to pull something like that off to any level of success, and goddamn if I'm not tired of failing. I don't have the time to do it right. I usually don't have the energy after working all day. Want more excuses? I've got a million of them.

I don't care how much experience I have built up now, it's still failure. The web is littered with websites and forums and things that I got started but couldn't keep people's interest. I'm tired of setting myself in the situation, I've got enough crap all ready for me to fail at.

-transiit

(for what it's worth, postorg will be permanently closed after march 31st, so if there's something on the wiki, the forum, or your personal account there, get it now.)

2 comments:

boo said...

I think you are misguided in deeming the PostOrg as a failure. It was not. It served a purpose. The ORG was no more a failure. But then the goals I had for each space in my role as participant were different.

I thank you for providing it as you did.

It was a great pillow to soften the blow of the ORG ending and through it I understood that recreating he ORG was not going to be a good thing the way recreating anything is an iffy affair. Can't go home again and who really wants to in the end if progress, growth and all those other things that mean life is going on are acknowledged.

And I can understand your need to stamp on the idea of failure being a good teacher. From reading this you are in the moment. Even if I don't agree that failure was had, you think it was, so bash away.

Whatever works.

It's a hell of a cycle but it is the one that works and is in play all over.

I am not familiar with Ze's words on the topic but it sounds good. Still, I keep thinking about how failures at goal A often do not make goal A any more satisfying to reach when you do reach it. That's panty-waste puzzle-game 50-second tripe. Immediate and hollow victory. Goal ?? Now that is where learning from failure if applied successfully is impressive and valuable. And that is the long term bankable.

Go ahead and sock me in the jaw. I can take it.

Your new site has a cool idea behind it and it is next level too.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame yourself, man. There's plenty of blame to go around. You, and Awed Job, and Consumatron, and others did your best to rally the troops. More than your fair share, anyway. If the troops didn't follow, it's not your fault.