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Backstory to: "Want to Be a High Flyer? Get a Little Black Box."
Reading time: about 3.8 minutes (excluding the original post below)
Did you know guilt is a homophone? If you are a modern day Mrs. Malaprop with hysteric norms, then you might think I have it wrong. Surely, homophones believe they are right and thus not the ones who should feel guilt.
For those of you not old enough to remember, Mrs. Malaprop made a name for herself in the year 1775 with the number of verbal blunders she spouted so smoothly. (Actually, she was, and still is, a character in a play by Richard Sheridan called The Rivals, first performed in January 1775.)
Mrs. Malaprop kindly gave us malapropisms to play with. Well, via Richard Sheridan. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of a malapropism. A malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, either unintentionally or for comedic effect, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance.
But I divest.
Did you know it takes two to homophone? You did? Then you also know that guilt’s homophone partner is gilt.
What you should know, but probably don’t because of how society reacts to guilt, is that there is a lot of gilt in guilt. I will explain. But first, a basic re-introduction to ungilded guilt.
When we do something wrong, we trigger guilt. And how do we know when wrong is wrong? Because we learned the hard way when we were little people. Bigger and Stronger People made us feel guilty (i.e. ashamed and unloved) when we did something amazing that they thought was not.
No matter our age, we experience guilt, a tinge or a wave, when what we value comes off second best to that which is valued by our Significant Others.
Here’s the real issue we face every day onwards from that first weird feeling we did not yet know as guilt. Every mistake we make, now and forever after, big or small, whips us with a lash of guilt. No wonder so many of us won’t take a chance on life. (And why we, supposedly wise adults, tolerate it when little kids get fakely gilded trophies for successfully showing up.)
So where on earth, you ask, is the gilt in guilt?
Well, once upon a time, there was a laddie called Tommy. Tommy ran wild and free in a place where no Big and Strong People made him feel guilty and ashamed when he tried many amazing things. Actually, this is not a fairy tale. It is my way of explaining how little Tommy Edison somehow grew up to become an adult with the gumption to say, “I have not failed. I’ve merely found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Or stated differently, "I am not guilty. I am 10,000 times gilted."
Edison is much admired. And rightly so. But I ask you, still through my tears and my guilt, why was I caned when I found even one small way that was wrong? And why is it I still remember the cane, but not the reason for the cane? What did I learn from that except to present my successes (my ‘rights’) with pride and to hide my miserable failures (my ‘wrongs’) under blushing shame?
We humans can be resilient, if nothing else. Which is why I see the gilt in every one of Edison’s 10,000 wrong ones. The gilt lies in having the sense to know that a failure is not a mistake. It is not yet something to feel guilty about.
Here’s why I say ‘not yet.’ A failure is something you never have to repeat, something you never have to waste more time on. But it is something to remember. Because if you don’t remember it, you might repeat it. If you repeat it, then you are not only wasting your time by doing again that which should not be repeated, you are also turning a failure into a mistake. A mistake is something wrong that grows with repetition. A mistake will balloon until it bursts guilt all over you.
A mistake simply means that you have not learned from doing wrong. It also means that you are not an Edison. (Sorry. That was mean. I feel guilty for saying it. Here, have a gilded fake trophy.)
If Edison’s 10,000 wrong ones did not make your lights go on, then consider what over 10,000 pilots do to cover themselves in gilt every day. They record their wrongs and erase their rights. They stubbornly learn from what did not work.
In the cockpit they call it the flight recorder. In the economy seats, we call it the black box.
Here is the original post:
Want to Be a High Flyer? Get a Little Black Box.
Reading time: about 1 minute
There are two funny things about an aircraft's black box, one funny peculiar and the other funny ha-ha.
Humor is an aid to learning, so let’s begin with ha-ha. The black box isn’t black. It is bright orange. So that Search and Rescue can find more easily.
No doubt you want to find success more easily. Here’s where the funny peculiar of the black box can help.
Airplanes are incredibly safe because of the industry’s unrelenting quest for even safer. Hence the smart trick of the black box. It records failure and overwrites success. Think about it. The box saves failure and deletes success.
We do the opposite. We record our successes with pride and hide our miserable failures. And we think success comes from doing right what must be done. We evaluate progress in terms of what we did right and we ignore what we did wrong.
Actually, ongoing success comes from not doing again what history has shown us to be wrong. That’s why pilots overwrite their successes and record their failures. So that they can learn from them. So that they never repeat the same failure.
Become a high flyer. Get an orange-black box and do like pilots do.
Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.