Humble Pi

Pi Day today which is also World Maths Day.

One might think that maths would be a field where there are right answers and wrong answers and embracing failure doesn’t help much. But one of my most memorable lectures in Predicate Calculus at university was on the notion of a “Proof by Contradiction”. This method is where instead of proving that a proposition is true, instead you prove that the direct opposite of the proposition is false (usually through identifying a contradiction).

My son Chase also shared this geeky example from the Numberphile vlog on the “10,958” solution. The process of seeking Countdown-esque combinations for large numbers is one where embracing failure becomes an invaluable tool, especially for a number that mathematicians had failed to find the solution for quite a while. Math maven Matt Parker comments…

  • “The only reason I found this [solution] is because I wasn’t afraid to try something where the odds were that I was going to fail miserably. I think that is the moral of the Parker Square. You give it go, even though it is probably not going to work. And you embrace it, you own it when it doesn’t work. Every now and then it does work out for you.”

Chutes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

One of the earliest childrens’ games is a simplest primer in leadership and management – “Chutes and Ladders” (or as it is called in England, “Snakes and Ladders”). Winning is about hitting the ladders (upsides) and avoiding the chutes (downsides)

Leaders find ladders. Managers avoid snakes/chutes.

Chutes and Ladders

Embracing Falling



It’s one thing to be born with a disability and it is all you know, but it’s another to lose capability you were born with. A rock came tumbling on his head and he wasn’t wearing a helmet (many climbers didn’t at the time of accident 18 years ago) leaving him with a number of severe impairments. One would think that most people would want to turn back time, but some, like Paul Pritchard has embraced his disability as “the best thing that happened to me”…

  • Pritchard now describes the accident as the ‘best thing that ever happened to me.’ It is an extraordinary thing to say but he did end up marrying and having two children with one of the nurses who looked after him. He also believes it has made him a better person. ‘Without that experience of nearly dying and all that hardship I wouldn’t have learned how to be patient.”

Embracing Disability Single Handedly

It’s Strictly season, a family favourite, though recently we have been a bit put off by the increasing number of ringers. It started with boy/girl band members and lifelong acting aspirants who had grown up with a battery of dancing lessons in theatre school culminating with ‘contestant’ Debbie McGee last year who was actually a professional dancer.

Part of the charm of the Strictly format (“Dancing With The Stars” in the USA) is the embrace of novelty and being a novice leading to inevitable struggles and failures. A much more compelling arc of progress when the musicality and fluidity starts to kick in starting from early failures. One of the classic categories of the true footloose neophytes are the athletes (In fact, DWTS pretty much took off when they secured A-list athletes Evander Holyfield to participate).

Since the emergence of para-sport with the London 2012 Paralympics, para-athletes have become celebrities in the sporting world. Contestants like Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock add physical disability (in a very physical activity) to out-of-comfort-zone novelty to make that challenge even more imposing. This year’s Lauren Stedman has been one of the more enjoyable contestants to follow as she brings her grace and grit to the dance floor.

Her Sunday Times piece “Lauren Steadman on being a disabled contestant on Strictly Come Dancing” shared many of her challenges in this novel world of glitter and sequins as well as a quite striking embrace of her disability.

  • Would I say yes to an arm if someone offered it to me now? No way. The people who care about how I look can walk away, because I can’t change myself. I’m proud of having one arm. It’s part of me.”

Imagine if you were transported to a planet where everyone had more than 2 arms and a journalist came up to you and asked “How does it feel to have only two arms?” Sure, you would probably witness a number of tricks and conveniences that the 4 armed folks managed, but it’s not clear how despondent you would feel having only your two.

What is the sound of clapping for one hand?

Embracing Emptiness


Not all feature presentations draw blockbuster audiences. In fact, some don’t draw any whatsoever. Like Austin McConnell’s Visioncom workshop on the topic of workshop success (thanks Chase). Due to a scheduling mix-up, no one knew it was taking place or at least where. So no one showed up. What do day? Free afternoon off? Nope. Austin gave the presentation anyway. His video is a charming catalogue of turning logistical snafu into at least online gold becoming his biggest YouTube post of all time.

Embracing Moore Failure


  • And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
    Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won’t have to work no more.” – Cat Stevens, Moonshadow

Roger Moore’s suave characters in “The Saint” and “James Bond” didn’t fear much and he certainly didn’t fear another birthday. As his philosophically mused in a Sunday Times intervirew, “Roger Moore: The man with the golden tongue”, before his death earlier this year, the enfeeblement of age imparted a certain freedom to him…

  • “About three or four years ago my back started giving me lots of problems, so I couldn’t do sit-ups any more. I was very excited about that. It’s funny: you give up things. It’s a sheer horror when you think about something like skiing, ice cream, drinking. But then once you’ve done it, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

The positive spin couldn’t help but remind of Cat Stevens’ classic song “Moonshadow”.

Embracing Death’s Proximity

Cristina the movie

  • Every day counts.  The blessing of cancer is living right now.  It’s almost like that the closer you are to dying, the more alive you become.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and today is Metastic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. For an insight into the ravages of this still deadly affliction as well as the embrace of life it inspired and continues to do so with this intimately told story, have a cuppa watching “Cristina The Movie’.