The fictional character Jack Bauer of 24 was indispensable as an agent for the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). He ignored orders. He went off protocol. That didn’t matter, he was critical to the success of the agency and the safety of the country as a whole within the context of the show.
Failure is always an option, a phrase popularized by Adam Savage from MythBusters, is a powerful ideology all of us should embrace. It runs counter to the old saying by buttoned-down military commanders, managers, football coaches and other commonly associated power figures that failure is not an option.
To those who love their jobs: purpose and passion trump profit as a motivator to produce great work. This is something I’ve been conscious of long before I started working for others. I noted this while in university – grades never motivated me nearly as much as if I viewed the subject matter as purposeful and the professor as passionate.
Many reading this may not know it, but in my free time I am an electronic music artist. A lot of people I meet have trouble believing I keep a blog, write music and work for one of the top marketing firms globally, but I do all of those things. No, I don’t have time for TV. I frequently sacrifice my social life. I’m usually working on one of my projects in free time. But I wouldn’t give any of it up and I’m irrationally committed to all my interests.
Eric Friedman (analyst at Union Square Ventures) and I have been having a great dialog offline the past few weeks. We’ve been discussing the idea that throughout life, you need to be on an accelerated learning curve. I’ve been thinking about this and realized why it’s such a great idea: it’s the opposite of how most people live.