Saturday, August 21, 2010

How to "Save" Birmingham, Alabama, Part I

Step 1:  Realize Birmingham doesn't need "saving."

The metropolis area of Birmingham does not need to be saved.  It needs to be celebrated.  Birmingham looks at faults longer and harder than it celebrates successes.  Focusing on faults results in decisions taken to minimize failure instead of maximize return.

When I was a younger whitewater paddler, an older man told me, "When paddling through a rapid, focus your eyes on where you want to go.  Never look at where you don't want to go."

Each action creates a different mindset: paddling by focusing on failure causes you to mitigate risk.  Paddlers will be more likely to abandon the "best" route, and attempt to navigate a poor route.

Paddling by focusing on success causes you to do what it takes to hit the mark.  Instead of abandoning the route, you choose your route more precisely, and work like hell to get there.

Perhaps, the reason Birmingham focuses on failure is: it doesn't know where it wants to go.  When all choices are judged as negative, the decision is always to minimize failure.

`Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
`I don't much care where--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

`--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.'
Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. `What sort of people live about here?'
`In that direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round, `lives a Hatter: and in that direction,' waving the other paw, `lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad.'
`But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

Step 2:  Laugh

Our good friends at View of the City ( handle this.  It's essential we don't take ourselves so seriously.

Step 3:  Failure is Not the End

Unless you make it the end.  Out of failure arises the knowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow.  When paddling, the key purpose is to "not swim;" i.e. come out of your boat.  When learning to paddle, I always paddled better after I swam.  I'd seen failure, and I got back in the boat and tried again.

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