I mentioned recently that I've been thinking about failure a lot lately. (No, not as part of my self-absorbed depressing moods.) Charles Kettering had a lot to say about failure as an important means to success. And then on Thursday afternoon, at Kettering University's brand-spanking-new Convocation ceremonies for incoming freshman, one of the speakers picked up on that theme again.
And, for whatever reason, my mind wondered to Wile E. Coyote.
Wile E. Coyote was an engineer. He embraced technology. (After all, he probably kept Acme in business just with his purchases alone.) And he found incredibly innovative ways to put together seemingly unrelated tools and stuff in order to create the most incredible devices to help him achieve his goals.
Of course, none of his schemes ever worked. But that didn't stop him, or discourage him. After the latest grand scheme ended in disaster, he'd pick him self up, including whatever parts happened to fall off during the last attempt, and start in on the next grand scheme. He was never discouraged by his setbacks; he just kept moving on to new frontiers, taking care not to make the same mistake twice. (Why make the same mistake over and over again when there are so many new and interesting mistakes to make?)
We need more engineers and scientists with the boldness and the tenacity and the single-minded pursuit of a goal that Wile E. Coyote had. (Or has. Do you refer to a cartoon character in the past or present tense? Whatever.) And along with that ... the courage to fail spectacularly, knowing that it is only when one risks spectacular failure that one finds spectacular achievement.
And, of course, the ninth law of cartoon physics: everything falls faster than an anvil.