Embracing Dumbness

Dont Believe Everything


  • “World’s shortest IQ test: ‘What percentage of your reality do you understand?’ Grading: The higher the percentage the lower the IQ.” – Scott Adams

What I know I don’t know makes me smarter.

  • Intelligence is accurately knowing how dumb you are.” – Jake Weisman

Base your questions on outliers, not your answers.

  • I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” – Richard Feynman

Resilience of insight is the most important resilience of all.

  • Just as the health of an immune system can be measured by its ability to resist microbial challenge, the health of a mind can be measured by its ability to live with doubt and uncertainty. Weak minds are attracted to conspiracy theories for the same reason that the immuno-compromised are attracted to sterile rooms.” – John Faithful Hammer

Embracing Shortness



  • Simon: I’m a miracle you know.
  • Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The bigger they are the harder they fall, so the smaller they are…
Fewer people embrace their impairment with everything from equanimity to downright enthusiasm as the titular character in the film “Simon Birch”. Simon leans into his ‘’shortcoming’ with humour, stoicism, conviction and frustration. His heroism does not come as a result of him overcoming his handicap, but instead by exploiting it. Not in spite of it, but because of it.

Jumping into Your Fall


Don’t fall…jump. That’s the message from professional rock climber Nina Williams’ TEDxCU talk “How to let go of failure and jump into your fall

  • “When you’re climbing a wall, climbers tend to choose the hardest way on purpose…Climbers choose the hardest way because, to some degree, we seek out that failure. We know that we’re going to fall. We expect it. And we know that it’s going to be scary. Which makes sense. A fear of falling is a natural human instinct. But it is also a skill that can be trained and practiced. If you just take a few small falls at first. Go into some bigger ones. And learn that when you fall, you’ll be okay.”

Williams focuses on optimizing the upside by increasing the challenge that entails the inevitability of falling, but also notes that embracing falling can minimize the downside when falls happen. Fighting a fall can result in a worse plummeting than embracing the inevitable and focusing on managing it. In the sport of sky-diving free-falling (the ultimate falling), one of the first and most important things they teach you is how to fall (ie. well, how to land). Also, in martial arts (especially the ones that focus on “throws” like judo), the skill of falling is one of the first lessons.

  • “The minute you let go, even though you are moving backwards, at least you are moving. Towards another chance to try again.”

Embracing Lazy Hacks


“Mogo Mogo pulling away with the worst looking raft of the three!”

YouTuber Peridiam has a great series on the “Survivor” television series and his videos on “hacked challenges” are especially entertaining and insightful. And one hack was a delightful example of embracing failure (or embracing laziness):

  • “I just got to make mention of this hilarious this hilarious strategy, this last hack, or whatever you want to call it that takes place in Episode 5 of Survivor Seasons 8 All-Stars…The third tribe, the Green tribe, Mogo Mogo, employs a strategy that, well, let’s just say that if you have ever been in a group project and decided that doing the bare minimum was good enough and just sort of hope for the best, you may have been on to something.”

Embracing Wailing

  • “Please be bad! Please be bad!”

There’s nothing boring about the new BBC show which combines talent show with game show – “I Can See Your Voice”. It is Lori’s and my latest guilt pleasure (so much show that Lori has blogged about it as well – “I Can See Your Voice”, well naturally, since her blog is on the voice).

What makes the show distinctive is its embrace of failure. In most talent and reality shows, plenty of failure is on display, but it tends to be cringe-worthy car-crash TV. On ICSYV, the failure is part of the triumph. People cheer as loudly for the failures as they do for the “good singers”. The failures aren’t deluded laughing stocks, but instead are in on the joke. In fact, the best failure of them all stands to win £10,000. Now that’s a failure I could embrace.

Embracing Boredom



Happy Boring Day! Mind you with coronavirus lock down, people might have had their fill of “Boring Days” by now. But such daily doldrums might just be another silver lining to the pandemic.

This year’s advice comes from former Microsoft colleague Steve Clayton. His current job as “Chief Storyteller” at Microsoft is anything but boring. We used to work together and both discovered blogging about the same time (before it was “a thing”). He shared it in his “old school” digital format of a boring email message. One which he sends out religiously each Friday and calls it, also somewhat boringly, “The Friday Thing””

  • · “The Friday Thing #616 ¬is boring. Well, more accurately, it’s about being bored. In fact it’s about cultivating boredom. I was reminded this week why it is I like to find new (and quiet) places to work. Why I sometimes cherish the 9hr flight from Seattle to London. Why I sometimes like being stuck in traffic – without any music or podcasts. Why I have been told, more than once, that I am boring. Because boring is good. Or, to put it another way, in the words of Austin Kleon, ‘when I get busy, I get stupid’. He wrote that in his book Steal Like and Artist. He also mentions that creative people (of which I am one, apparently) need time to just sit around and do nothing. It’s why ideas happen in the shower and why I have many of my most creative (not always best) ideas on a plane without Wi-Fi – because I have few distractions and lots of headspace. Letting you brain get in to free flow is an illuminating process. But in the busy world we live in today, you have to force yourself to be bored. I love this line by Peter Bregman: ‘Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that’s where creativity arises.’ Or perhaps Albert Einstein said it best when he said ‘Creativity is the residue of time wasted.’ So this week, in a first ever for the Friday Thing I am giving you nothing to click on, read or watch. Just celebrate some boredom for a while.”

A blogging hero to both Steve and I , Seth Godin, echoed these sentiments in his own post Thoughts on “I’m bored”:

  • · “It’s good that you’re feeling bored. Bored is an actual feeling. Bored can prompt forward motion. Bored is the thing that happens before you choose to entertain yourself. Bored is what empty space feels like, and you can use that empty space to go do something important. Bored means that you’re paying attention (no one is bored when they’re asleep.).”

Embracing Spectrum Impairments


Autism Acceptance Week. As a part of my own expanded awareness this week, I came upon the graphic below which provides a useful illustration of the multidimensional “spectrum” of “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” (ASD). This richer model more clearly articulates how someone “on the spectrum” may have impairments in an area, but none in most others. In assessing how someone with ASD might be quite successfully integrated in a team or organisation, understanding this nuance of how the disorder presents itself and how the particular individual is affected is critical.

The Sunday Times article “GCHQ: meet the spooks with very special skills” shares the case study of an the GCHQ which went a step further of not just embracing neurodiversity, but seeing some of those impairments as actual advantages in certain types of tasks:

  • Hundreds of people with autism and dyslexia work at the government’s eavesdropping post. Why do they make such good spooks?…Although GCHQ draws its employees from a wide cross-section of society, a handful of these ‘unsmart casuals’ are very smart indeed – and not in the conventional way. GCHQ needs brains that are wired differently.”
  • “Harry’s habit is the manifestation of his dyspraxia, which is deemed a ‘strength’ within GCHQ’s ‘neuro-diversity’ programme – and not a ‘condition’, as it is described in the outside world. Dyspraxia is regarded as a developmental coordination disorder, which affects the brain’s ability to process information such as language, thought and perception, but does not impact on a person’s intelligence. He set out to solve a problem, which his boss said was ‘not logically achievable’. He clutched his 10 coloured pens and notepad and began ‘scribbling and doodling’ until he cracked it. Ultimately, it earned him one of GCHQ’s top merit awards.”

The unit manager “Jo” describes “the essence of human potential and the wonderful plasticity of the human brain.”

Autism spectrum

Embracing Storms


  • We still have storm damage, but we just consider that storm damage is part of our lifestyle and we use it as inspiration to change because the whole place is a big installation art piece that transforms in some way every year. And usually winter storms cause the inspiration for that.”

Freedom Cove has just used generous proportions of recycled materials for more than a home, but a mini-homestead. In fact, the very “ground” it exists on is recycled, ie. discarded logs. Embracing the detritus which failed to find other use as its very foundation, it is no surprise that entire construction is regularly inspired by embracing failure. The quote above reminds me that a storm offers more opportunity than the doldrums.

  • Fair winds do not a great captain make. We dream of finding our own greatness one day, but we want it to happen when the sun is shining.” – Hugh McLeod

Embracing Waste

Recycling day homes

Global Recycling Day today. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, especially for these creative architects have turned refuse into residences and debris into dwellings cover in the piece “These beautiful homes are actually made from trash”:

  • “This house, from top to bottom, is entirely made of garbage. Literally. the “Waste House” was designed by studio BBM’s director Duncan Baker-Brown, along with undergraduate students at the university. The walls are covered in used carpet tiles and are insulated with junk, including floppy discs and toothbrushes… The architects claim that the Waste House is the UK’s first permanent building constructed with garbage. The designers hope to inspire others, showing that “junk” can be used for so much more. Traditionally, these materials are undervalued. ‘“Foundations made from ground-granulated blast-furnace slag support a framework comprising salvaged plywood beams, columns and timber joists rescued from a nearby demolished house.’ The walls of the house are filled with 20,000 toothbrushes, 4,000 DVD cases, 2,000 floppy discs and two tons of denim offcuts. You can see the insulation through these ‘windows’.”

The creations remind me of some clever constructions I’ve come across in my other blog, Maldives Complete, such as Makunudu’s plastic water bottle spa.

Recycling day homes 2


Recycling day home 3

Glacadh le Teip



Happy St. Patrick’s Day. The title is of course Gaelic for “Embracing Failure”. An opportunity to look at another country’s cultural attitudes toward Fáilte Failure which Irish Times article “‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ Irish business is embracing the ‘fail fast’ culture” seems to embrace it with all of the enthusiasm of an Irishman belting out song in a pub after quite a few Guinness pints:

  • Irish CEOs have embraced what i’s called a ‘fail fast’ culture in their organisations quicker than their global counterparts, according to the KPMG Global CEO Outlook. 82% of CEOs surveyed want their employees to feel empowered to innovate and try new things without worrying about negative consequences.”

May the pluck of the Irish be with you!