Mick Haensler

ON PLAYING IT SAFE

We don’t plan our mistakes any more than we plan a car crash. They happen fast and  without much if any warning. Some new research from Princeton suggests we make mistakes more so from flawed information going into the brain than from a malfunction of the brain itself. A friend of mine on a recent vacation in Colorado made a life threatening mistake, he was on an ATV excursion in the mountains when his vehicle flipped. This guy’s a real man’s man(urr urr urr) and no novice to the sport but is used to our native flatland, not mountainous terrain.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet(big no no,invincibility complex) and his face, as well as the rest of his body got pretty banged up. He’s a fortunate guy, he lived to tell the tale. Some 700 people die and another 136,000 are sent to the emergency room every year from ATV accidents.

So, was his mistake due to a brain malfunction or crappy input?? As in most cases, probably a bit of both but I do believe the former influenced the latter more than vice versa. In the words of Dr. Phil…”What were you thinkin’!!!!”

Mistakes are a fickle topic. On the one hand, they can cause injury and death, on the other, they can lead to some of the greatest inventions in the world. Penicillin, The Pacemaker, X-Rays, Potato Chips and Chocolate Chip Cookies all came about because someone dared to make a mistake. We live in a world ever increasingly regulated to “help” us avoid making nasty boo boos. A leisurely drive down an otherwise pastoral country road is constantly interrupted by unnecessary and sometimes idiotic road signs put there in the interest of public safety. From our school system to corporate culture, we are bombarded with the message to Play It Safe.

I’m not advocating being a fool, nor am I justifying breaking the law or knowingly putting yourself in unnecessary danger, but we are made for adventure! We are a resilient bunch and handle adversity surprisingly well when we crawl kicking and screaming out of our beige walled, climate controlled, life sucking comfort zones.  A famous quote attributed to everyone from Albert Einstein to theologian William Shedd purports “ A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is for”. So go ahead, start that blog that’s been in the planning stages for the last year. You might have something to say worth listening to and if you’re lucky, you might just piss somebody off! Dreaming of starting your own business? It ain’t gettin‘ done reading this!  And by all means, climb that mountain on an ATV, but wear a helmet for cryin, out loud. You still might die but at least we’ll be able to keep the coffin open at your funeral.