So needless to say I was less than satisfied with yesterday's BloggerCon conference. At one point i got pissed off enough that i decided to drive up to SF and play some ultimate to blow off steam. I came back later in the afternoon, but the same "conference rules" of censoring any vendor free speech got me all riled up again. Oh well, i'll get over it. Even if i don't agree with him, still i give kudos to Dave Winer for all his efforts in putting together the conference. But i do think it could be done better.
Then I got an email from Nelson Minar over at Google that helped put it all in perspective. He made me remember one of my guiding principles about dealing with life whenever i have an unpleasant experience. So here it is: if you're hitting .300, remember that you're doing great.
The translation: if you think whatever you're doing sucks, consider how many times you'd try it again in order to get a successful / happy result. Depending on the activity and the goal, you might find that a success rate of only 10-20% could be worthwhile for you. This mental exercise will often come up for me when i go to a conference or a user group meeting, and I find myself thinking "dammit, what a waste of time this is..." when i'm not enjoying either the speaker(s) or format.
But the important thing to remember is the 1 out of X times when you really enjoy the event, and how much *other* crap is offset by that one great experience. For me, i find my tolerance for pain or frustration is relatively limited in the short term (ie, i'll get up and walk out of a meeting or conference i'm not getting anything out of), but pretty darn patient in the long term (ie, i'll keep going to conferences and meetings that i know might be tedious, in exchange for that one event with the really terrific speaker or piece of info that changes your whole perspective).
I think this is a really important principle to remember for so many situations. Those singular, critical events we experience are worth so much compared to the rest of our average daily life, and their value should not be assessed lightly. The corollary of course, is that unhappy or tedious experiences need to be tempered by the likelihood of an extraordinary experience happening every so often, given similar conditions.
Perhaps I belabor the obvious here, but i think this is a key success trait (and sometimes flaw) of entrepreneurs... if you believe in something you feel is important, you should be willing to tolerate failure for an extended period of time in exchange for a low -- but non-zero -- probability of success. The colloquial way I like to say this is that I'm willing to bang my head against (or through) a wall for longer than almost anyone else I know. Of course in the extreme this philosophy can get you into trouble, but tempered a bit it can result in phenomenal successes.
So remember batter: hang in there. With persistence, perserverance, and practice... you'll get on base eventually :)