April 13, 2009

Pushing Laughter

Posted in Life, Technology tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:55 am by lindaslongview

ski_flop_2009Weekends do not get much better than the combination of snow, sun, fresh air, mountains, and family.  Although there are always many enjoyable moments in a ski weekend, the ones that are most memorable are hearty laughs after being flung into the snow from catching an edge or while collecting scattered poles and skis, after missing a turn in the moguls.   It might seem counterintuitive to glorify the negative, but I know that if I am not occasionally coming unglued, I am not pushing myself to get better.  After each fall, I get a few laughs and a little more practiced being at my edge.

It is simply not possible to push yourself to be more, better, and/or stronger, without making errors, mistakes, and/or stumbles.  The key to successful growth is willingness to laugh at imperfection and error – recognize the positive in the negative and not take everything too seriously.

The same advice applies to the business of technology development.  When trying new things, running challenging experiments, and testing uncertain outcomes, it would be rare indeed to always have things go flawlessly.  So, take the long view and laugh a little. Stay positive and be willing to try again – chances are “round two” will benefit significantly from what was learned on “attempt one.”

One of my best laughs in the lab occurred when I worked closely with a colleague to test prototype equipment for mixing viruses and cells for an infection process.  Our goal was to demonstrate that the new equipment functioned comparably to a manual process.  It was a demanding randomized experiment that took hours to set-up and execute.  On that day, after a long morning of set-up, my colleague and I shared a hood all afternoon, working in tandem to complete all of the infections efficiently.  As we neared the end of the experiment, all of a sudden my colleague looked at me slightly panicked and announced that we had forgotten to properly attach the cells to the equipment – we had just added alcohol (instead of cells) to all the viruses of the prototype test conditions.  At that moment we looked at each other and just started to laugh really hard.  The laughter broke the anxiety, recognizing the reality of new terrain.  When we redid the experiment, we were more fluid in our execution and more confident in our abilities.  Overall, the project was extremely successful and we gained from our ability to be positive.  To celebrate our accomplishments, I awarded my colleague the “Littlest Bartender Award” for helping those viruses party that afternoon (to this day we still laugh about it!).

If you cannot laugh at yourself, then your friends and colleagues cannot laugh with you.  😉

On the ski hill, I may only occasionally have a tight, fast, clean mogul run, but I will forever keep pushing myself to achieve it and will keep laughing each time I come unglued!  Although the smiling “wipeout” photo could be me, it is my son – I had the iPhone!

Advertisements

4 Comments »

  1. Greg Digneo said,

    Some of my greatest (and funniest) memories are of when I’ve failed, fallen, or had a sudden lapse of common sense. The best stories are those told with the friends I’ve failed with. While it might be horrible in the moment, it will be a blast to recall five years from now.

    • lindaslongview said,

      Indeed! Thanks for reinforcing, Pushing Laughter.

  2. Janet said,

    Laugher is great medicine! (quote from Bible)

    There’s nothing like a good laugh at one’s self!

  3. Deborah said,

    When you talk about laughing at such an important moment in your experiment it just reminds me to “lighten up” altogether! Thanks, d


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: