Continuous Improvement & Embracing Failure
“Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection” – Kim Collins, Olympian, Track and Field
Every year Mike and Rob take a float plane to a remote location for a hunting trip. When it’s time to go home they pack up their gear, the fish and game that they’ve caught, and begin to load the plane. Seeing the excess cargo the pilot protests, talking about weight distribution, fuel load, capacity, range…and a whole bunch of other aviation details telling them they cannot return with that much weight.
Mike tells the pilot that last year they loaded this amount on the plane and the only thing that has changed is the pilot. Of course, ego wins out over common sense and they load up the remaining cargo and prepare for takeoff.
The pilot taxis down the lake to his normal starting spot then jumps out of the plane into the hip-deep water, and proceeds to drag the plane back an additional 100 feet into the rushes. Getting back in, he closes the door and gives it full throttle. The plane picks up speed and eventually lifts off the lake surface. Rob and Mike are elated and start cheering, willing the plane to climb higher to clear the approaching treeline. Just as it seems the plane will be able to clear the trees and get fully airborne, the pontoons catch the top of the tallest tree, causing the plane to tumble and come to an abrupt stop as a pile of broken parts in the forest.
Mike, Rob, and the pilot emerge from the wreckage relatively intact. The pilot can’t understand why Mike and Rob look so happy and then he overhears Mike ask Rob, “How did we do?” Rob’s response; “ About 50 feet farther than last year!”
The story might seem a bit odd initially, but when you think about it, it echoes the path that most of us have taken. As entrepreneurs, we started out in business with the desire to make something better. We try, have less than stellar results, make small changes, try again, have slightly better results, repeat. As long as you learn from it and always move the progress markers forward eventually you’ll clear the trees!