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How I figured out that reflecting on failures made for good business.

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Seth Godin calls it “shipping.” Having the courage to reflect, write, and ship. It is taking time to build the habit to do good things for oneself.

Tim Ferris calls it his 5-Bullet Friday. Five things throughout the week that he noticed, found, explored, etc.

The combination of these two ideas helped me stumble onto a habit that has been transformational in my career, and in how I view my successes and failures as a business leader in the manufacturing industry.

On August 26, 2019, I began writing weekly about five things uncovered over the week. Five things, and five things only. Ideas or things noticed that I found cool, challenging, questionable, or inspirational. I sent these out to my team every Monday. Some were in-depth, some were quick snippets, but always five and always on time.

After I’d been at it a while, I found that some of the most insightful things turned out to be the things that I failed at or the accomplishments of teams I was part of. Experiences that humbled me, examples in leadership that were empathetic, or individuals that were curious to dig into just a little more detail to uncover a wealth of opportunity.

I was asked recently by a former colleague if I still do it since transitioning my career to a new company. I indicated I had not. Perhaps I’d lost the courage to reflect, write, and ship.

Not having a valid reason why, I quickly started seeing these things differently again, seeing snippets of “value” that I had not been seeing. I noticed examples of velocity releasing valuable time to do other things. In noticing and letting them pass by, I didn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate and note the value obtained.

The experiment I originally intended for went from 10 weeks to nearly 2 years… more than 80,000 words of reflecting on value, and I believe I only missed 2 weeks.

Recently, I started writing them down again -

here we go… I have decided to ship it.

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