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You never know how it will work out

By March 21, 2023October 5th, 2023No Comments

How it started. How it was going. How it ended up.

I wonder how this will work out?

I’ve just finished my three-week ceramic course, and you’re seeing the before, middle, and after shots … of my best piece. I’m choosing not to show you the one that looks, in the words of my beloved wife, “like a poo emoji”. Even I have some standards.

The transformation from glazed to fired is remarkable, no? We were told what colours the glazes should become on firing, but we’re also told it’s pretty unpredictable exactly how it pans out in reality. I was expecting my final plate to be blacker and the blues to be punchier, but so it goes. I love it exactly how it is.

Just the other day I was interviewed by an author who’s figuring out what book she wants to write. Her starting thought was the question, “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” and she wanted to know how I felt about its utility. 

It’s OK. But I can’t actually imagine a “not failing” scenario. I just know that every choice has prizes and punishments, and there’s always an opportunity cost.

For me a more useful question is, “what’s worth doing even though it’s likely you might fail?” 

That feels like it draws on self-knowledge (what’s worth it?), forces risk management (what can I afford to lose?), and invites courage (and I’m going to do this?). 

With practice, I’ve come to relish taking my best guess, and going for it. Commit to the process, and stay intrigued about the outcome. (tweet this.)

Even when it’s glazing plates.

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.