Walk to Solve

Do you pace? I sure do. For years I thought it was a bad habit. I couldn’t sit still in school. My poor teachers tried to address it, “Sit down, Jason!” It was a constant problem. I eventually learned to pace “in place” while sitting. I can’t help it. My legs just want to move. Over the years, I learned the art of “focus” and mindfulness to help address some of my restlessness. Zoom has been a challenge for me, but I can assure you, my feet are still traveling miles under the table, bouncing and moving out of frame. But I find that anytime someone asks me a difficult question or I need to think deeply about something, I still instinctively leap to my feet and start moving. Are you like that?

I need to be moving. Scenery needs to be changing around me to forge new mental connections, amplify associations and expand my mental models so that I can arrive at an answer. It isn’t just the super complex problems that drive me to my feet, it can be something as simple as, “What should we do for dinner?”

I’m a kinetic thinker and suspect some of you are too. I need to push my mind through space as well as time to arrive at the solution. Somehow by experiencing a spatial flux it sparks cognitive magic. If I have a problem I just can’t solve or need to get creative about a fresh solution, a brisk walk suddenly unlocks the impossible. It can be something simple like a walk around the house.

We happened to find a house that has a circular floorplan. My wife laughs at me and my kids as we make laps around the inside of the house. Yes, my kids have been infected with this kinetic affection as well. There have been more than one collisions in our thinking, literally. For the more difficult problems, I go outside and perhaps even make a circuit around the block. Over and over again, those spatial explorations uncover discoveries that wouldn’t have been afforded otherwise. What can I say? I walk to solve.

Do you have a difficult decision in front of you right now? Do you have a mental block or can’t see any alternatives to a problem? If so, go for walk. I’m convinced it can help you unlock those mysteries too.  Oh, and I’ll join you!

A Culture of Candor

“There’s no upside in being wrong.” – Ed Catmull

“I need to sit down.” We were standing in a crowded reception hall and the keynote speaker and I were talking. He had a pained look on his face. The waitstaff was bustling around offering hors d’oeuvres to the conference attendees that had gathered after a “Ralph Breaks VR” demonstration at The Void at Downtown Disney. I spotted a collection of chairs in the corner and motioned toward them, “Let’s grab a seat there.” 

“That’s better!” It was a star-struck moment for me. I was now sitting next to one of my heroes and in an hour or so we would be going to dinner together. I first heard about Ed Catmull in college. I had admired his research in computer graphics including his pioneering work in texture mapping. Sitting there, it occurred to me that the incredible VR demonstration we just saw wouldn’t have been possible without his revolutionary work. Ed smiled, clearly relieved to be sitting down and then continued our conversation. We talked about the technology, cloud computing, PIXAR, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, mindfulness and of course, Ed’s book, Creativity, Inc.

“I hated it!” Ed’s shook his head in response to my question about his experience writing the book. It was a lot of hard work. He explained how he had enlisted 40+ reviewers to critique the manuscript and was always wanting more. Despite his elaborate efforts to get that candid feedback, he was convinced that it was still far from perfect. After publication, he said he received abundant feedback from the brilliant folks at PIXAR on all the areas he got wrong. He was motivated and even encouraged by Bob Iger, to make a second edition. I do hope that happens. The thing that impressed me the most about Ed was his insatiable desire to get things right and to enlist the help of others to do so. When I asked why he went to such measures to get that feedback, he told me, “There’s no upside in being wrong.” 

If you ever read Ed’s book, and you should, you know how much emphasis is placed on getting authentic and candid feedback. That approach has shaped the storytelling and creative content powerhouses at PIXAR, Walt Disney Animation Studios and ILM. I told Ed about my first visit to PIXAR and how it left such a huge impression on me. It wasn’t just the great campus, the comfortable open area buildings or the iconic artwork decorating the place. No, the biggest thing to me was the culture of candor. There was no power structure in the rooms. Ego was taken out. There was this incredible respect and expectation for everyone in the room to give and take honest notes. It was transformative and something I have forever sought to encourage and replicate in my own teams. Ed’s comment? “Yes, but I know we still have work to do.”

Ed is right. I have seen organizations achieve good success only to see it calcify processes or limit the ability to receive corrective feedback. As my conversation with Ed underscored, it is critical to continually seek honest feedback, remove power structures from the room and drive changes accordingly. I’m proud to say that I personally continue to see this honest feedback. At least once a week, someone on my team will raise an issue to me where we—and yes sometimes just me—are not doing the right thing, not communicating well, missing an opportunity, or doing something we shouldn’t. These are pure gold. I won’t pretend they don’t sometimes sting or hurt, but I can’t think of a single time where they didn’t result in some improvement that made us all better.

Are you willing to receive candid feedback? Are you willing to give it? As a leader, are you removing the power structure in the room so that you minimize risk and amplify candor?

I recognize that I’m over indexed on optimism, but I also believe that at any given point, something is going wrong. How do we discover that and encourage others to do the same? Getting a true an honest signal when things are going wrong is critical for our organizations if we hope to see them stay relevant, successful and thriving. Look for problems. Reward and embrace honest feedback so that you can change. As Ed would say, “There’s no upside in being wrong.” Strive for being right!

Laughter!

“There is nothing better or more cleansing in this world than laughter.” – Pat Carroll

“Hahaha!” Laughter filled the room. Pat was with her daughters and granddaughter. Tears were rolling down their cheeks like a shower, washing and refreshing with each powerful laugh. It was glorious. The smiles, the sounds, and the senses radiated and adorned Pat’s gregarious and welcoming face.

Pat began acting in local productions when she was just five years old. She was funny. Her wit and humor had gained the attention of brilliant stars like Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett and Danny Thomas. She loved performing live shows, stand-up comedy and doing character acting. She picked up roles on television shows like ABC’s Laverne & Shirley. She started doing voice-over work in the 1980’s for animation programs like Scooby-Doo, Galaxy High, A Goofy Movie, Pound Puppies, Garfield and even voiced the character of Granny in Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. But her most beloved role would come in 1989.

“I’ve been a Disney fan since I was 5 years old,” Pat would explain. She had joined the Mickey Mouse Club and even had the ears. Her greatest dream was to perform in a Disney film. That day finally came. Disney was working on a new animated film and the directors and musical team were looking for the perfect talent. Pat auditioned six times. Her determination paid off! A year later, she got the call to be the voice of Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  She laughed! It was a dream come true and she said, “I’ve never enjoyed anything so much in my life.” Her memorable and throaty rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls would make her one of Disney’s most beloved villains. Can you hear her singing? Can you hear her laughing? That was Pat.

Pat Carroll passed away this past weekend, July 30, 2020, at 95 years old. In a recent interview, she said, “I’ve had the most wonderful life. I’ve done everything I wanted to do and I’ve had a ball doing it.” Indeed she did. To Pat, the greatest thing in the world is laughter. The ability to laugh and make other people laugh is a superpower that is a remedy for so much that ails us. It provides cleansing. It washes our worries, treats our bruises and breathes oxygen into our journey.

Laugh! Make sure you take time to sample some humor today, and every day.

Recovery

The room was spinning! I had been moving fast, trying to quickly clean up everything, fix and serve breakfast. I was holding a hot frying pan in my right hand and had just placed a bowl of eggs on the counter. I sat the pan on the burner and literally saw a dark tunnel forming before me. The lights were going out but it wasn’t the room, it was me! Weakness started crawling up from my feet and hands. Core shutdown eminent! My central nervous system managed to reach my higher brain functions before it was too late. “Sit down now!” The orders were clear and the tunnel approached with even greater speed. The legs went to work, folding like a card table, tucking themselves under each other in a “Criss-Cross Applesauce” mode. I was on the floor with hands on lap and staring bewildered at the fading ceiling lights.

My heart was racing as if driving with full throttle away from the approaching tunnel. Thankfully it did the trick. The shadows receded and the feeling of my head gained its full weight again. The cold floor pressed up against me, with a reassuring, “Stay put buddy.” My family passed by, unfazed. Of course dad would be sitting in the middle of the kitchen like he was in kindergarten. Nothing to see here… he just overdid it again.

True enough. I overdid it. I was on day 4 of having tested positive for COVID. It had been a painful few days with the typical flu-like muscle aches, headaches, sneezing, sore throat, coughing and feverish restlessness. But on Saturday, I woke up feeling so much better. I thought I was over it. Instead of enjoying the moment and gradually wading back in to the hustle and bustle of life, I decided to jump in to the deep end with full force. Time to tackle the day and get some things done! Oh, bother. Back to recovery mode.

I don’t know about you but I’m a terrible patient. I know things need time to mend. I just don’t want to wait for them. This weekend was a great lesson on patience. Push the recovery envelope to much and you will get an enforced time-out delivered post-haste!  Too many of you have told me about similar experiences of driving yourself too hard with too little rest and sleep. This is a knock-out recipe for disaster. I fully recognize I’m being a bad example here. I’ve lectured many of you to give yourself space to heal and here I am, sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor, eating crow.

Pace yourself. Listen to your body and those around you when they remind you that you should take it easy. Give yourself time to heal and recover. That doesn’t just apply to recovery from a sickness, that applies to all that we do and experience. We need hard work. But we also need good rest. Those seemingly opposing forces work together in a complementary and dynamic way to balance life. If one side is too heavy, our life will be out of balance. This weekend was a good reminder to me that I have a tendency to push things out of balance. I took a breath, laughed at myself and slowly restarted the day. I gently stood up and waded back in to the insatiable adventure of life.

How is your balance? Something off? Take time to align yourself and reach a healthy balance that will propel you forward.

Keep Exploring

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

I love Disneyland!  My girls and I just concluded a three day visit at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.  We stayed on property so we could enter the park early in the morning and enjoy the cool awakening of this magical place. Despite having fully memorized the layout over the past nearly 17 years, my girls still love to pick up a map. They are not alone. I saw many families around us walking down Main Street with their heads buried in a map including the digital version on their smartphones.  I love watching our guests, especially the little ones at the beginning of the day when they are full of anticipation and energy.  Their little arms struggle to stretch out the map in front of them as they bounce with excitement.  It’s contagious!  As they scan the map, their eyes tell a story of the wonders, adventures and discoveries that await them.  There is something powerful about exploring new possibilities, mysteries and experiences.  You can feel it too, can’t you?

We are curious creatures. It begins early as we try new things. Sights, sounds, smells, textures. They all fascinate us and pull us like a gravity to explore more. We ask, “What is this? How does it work? Why is it here? Is there more to this?”  We peer into the small, the quantum world, asking if it can be even smaller.  We gaze into the heavens and ask how far does it go and is it even bigger.  Our insatiable curiosity launches discovery, plunging to the depths of the sea and flying to the surface of other worlds.  Our eyes are hungry for discovery and our minds are thirsty for excursions. We map our menu of options and begin to explore. 

This past week, NASA’s Webb Space Telescope rocked the world with new discoveries of the universe that we have never seen before. Thousands of new galaxies, solar systems, exoplanets and star formations from 290 million light-years away were suddenly made available just inches from our eyes.  Each discovery reminds us that we are part of something even bigger.  It opens up a new map to explore.  Before us, the universe.  Where should we go next? What is this? How does it all work? Why is it here? Is there more to this?  And on we go.  We keep exploring because we are curious.  

What fascinates you? What are you exploring today? Stay curious!

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Fight for the Users!

“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.” – Kevin Flynn

Greetings programs,

“LaserDisc… Prepare to be blown away!” The clerk at the local movie rental store handed us the LaserDisc player and movie and guaranteed that it would level up our home movie experience. My brother and I unpacked the dazzling new player and quickly connected the RCA cables, powered up the audio system and hit play. Seconds later it sprung to life with colorful geometric shapes flying across the screen, taking us on a journey into a virtual realm. The dazzling images on the screen were accompanied by room filling sounds the LaserDisc pumped into the audio system. The ethereal soundtrack by Wendy Carlos transported us into this magical world of the impossible. The characters in the movie were playing video games, but not like my sister and I would play at the local arcade, they were actually in the game, inside the computer! They were “programs”, walking around, pulling power from circuit board rivers of light, recording information on their identity disks, piloting vector based light-cycles, tanks, recognizers and solar sailing ships across the grid. And like any good hero story, they fought against the oppressive evil overlord. The Master Control Program sought to enslave the world of computer programs to do it’s evil bidding to ultimately take over the human world. They were fighting for the “Users”, the human creators of this digital realm. One of those creators, a programmer named Flynn, gets transported into this digital world to join in on the fight. Welcome to the world of TRON!

I was blown away! The clerk had been right. It had inspired me and introduced me into a new world. The world of programs, computers and computer graphics. I was suddenly obsessed with this new found passion. It became an imperative for me to learn everything I could about this computer world. I managed to talk my dad into getting me a Commodore 64 so I could learn to do all these things that I had seen on the screen. Soon, I was crafting my own programs, sprites, animations and audio waveforms. I even made my own space adventure game that I published in our middle school paper, as if anyone would ever type in all that code! I was hooked. Maker clubs, hacker homebrew meetups and bulletin board systems eventually led me to join the computer science and electrical engineering departments at the University of Tulsa. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to fight for the Users, making programs and systems that made the world a better place.

TRON was released to theaters 40 years ago this past weekend. While not a blockbuster for Disney by any means, the film was groundbreaking. As with so many of Disney films, it had inspired people just like me. It even paved the way for computer-generated imagery in animated films. John Lasseter has said that without TRON, there would have been no Toy Story.

We make magic. But that magic isn’t just the compelling storytelling, the visual effects, the powerful adventures or experiences we deliver. No, the real magic is what endures those moments and begins a ripple effect on lives. People become inspired to try new things. New passions awaken. New worlds unfold. The work we do makes an impact that transcends the bottom line and propels us into the future as a species. We inform. We inspire. We improve our human experience, one story at a time.

Are you ready? It’s time to go play the game. Let’s go fight for the Users!

End of Line

Don’t Worry, Take Action

Rain was gently falling.  Lightning arced across the dark sky.  The brilliant flash reflected off of the wet black pavement and the shiny airplane parked at the gate.  A groan erupted from the collection of stranded passengers standing at the gate.  The answering thunder seemed to punctuate their frustration and a new downpour begin to ensue.  Security radios squawked to life around the room, “Lightning detected within 3-mile radius, evacuate ramps.” Hushed complaints and grumbles from the passengers were silenced as the flight crew announced the inevitable delay.  We were supposed to depart from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) airport at 4:30pm and now it was 9pm.  We had spent an incredible two days with our SRE team supporting National Geographic.  They had introduced us to the collection of applications and systems that power NatGeo’s mission to deliver great content and experiences that inspire people across the world to appreciate, care for and explore our incredible planet.  At the moment, we were appreciating how unpredictable this planet of ours can be and how it doesn’t play by airline schedules.  Our flight to the Orlando Airport (MCO) was about to be cancelled.

What do you do when your plans fall apart?  As I stared out into the dark, rainy and surprisingly peaceful night, I heard chatter of anxiety, anger, frustration, and confusion all around me.  I felt some of that myself.  As the next lightning strike lit up the clouds, I was reminded that my worry would not change the weather.  When our plans are thwarted or problems arrive at our door, what do we do?  Do we worry?  I confess, I come from a long line of worriers. Instinct seems to coach you to wring your hands, pace and fret.  But none of that helps.  Many years ago I had a realization that life is a series of circumstances we find ourselves in. Our plans are programs we write to move us from one situation to the next, one state to the next.  When those plans involve external dependencies, like the airline or the weather, we can find our plans thwarted.  When that occurs, instead of activating the no-op infinite worry loop, reprogram.  I have learned to assess the situation and ask myself what are the controllable actions we can take to address the situation?  We can’t control the weather or other dependencies, but we can control how we respond to a new unknown state and our next steps.  

When life throws you for a loop, break out.  Don’t stay in the trap.  You can’t control everything, nor should you try, but you can control your next move.  What moves are available to you? Get creative and enumerate all the possible next steps. Now, take action.  Success or failure?  Assess your current state and take another action. There is incredible peace and clarity in knowing what you can do or can’t do, even if your original plans are spoiled. Use the flow of circumstances around you to power, inform and navigate your journey to the next moment.  Then to the next.  

Our original plans to Orlando were unwinding.  Our next actions were to explore all alternative ways to travel to Orlando.  We reserved seats on a flight the following day and made a hotel reservation for the night just in case our flight was cancelled.  Beyond that, our next action was to wait, enjoy the falling rain and relax until the verdict came back.  Changes would be required, but we would adapt and move forward.

“Don’t worry, take action.”  I’ve learned to coach myself on that advice over the years.  It reduces stress, adds clarity and avoids the fretful worry loop.  Are you worried or stressed?  Press pause and assess your circumstances. What is controllable and what actions can you take?  Avoid fretting over the uncontrollable and embrace the next step.  Appreciate the clarity that it brings and don’t forget to enjoy the peaceful rain and moments that those unplanned events can bring your way.   

Nobody’s Perfect

“Nobody’s perfect, Dad!” My highly engaged and enthusiastic 8 year old daughter, with hands on her hips, would look right in my face and remind me of that.  She was poised and ready to recite Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana’s song, “Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.” We had been in the midst of cleaning and picking up the house and I had provided some, at least in my mind, important feedback on what was lacking in our effort. I fully admit that my obsession with the details and doing things well often spills over reasonable limits. My kids have been exceedingly helpful in providing feedback in this area. I can’t help but be reminded of my own experience with my dad too. Ever the engineer, he was passionate about “planning ahead” and “giving attention to detail.” It would often be punctuated with commentary and head shaking analysis of the work done by my sister and I. He had great intentions but there were times where it landed poorly. I do credit him with inspiring me to work hard and pursue perfection.

I have been incredibly blessed to have had two dads. My bonus dad, my step-father entered my life when I was 12 years old. He was the polar opposite. He definitely modeled working hard but he placed a high value on people, empathy and mercy. He would echo my youngest daughter’s reminder that everyone needs some grace and consideration.  We are all guilty of miss steps, mistakes and mess-ups. He would remind us how people are the most important thing and we need to live, love and laugh.  As we approach Father’s Day in the US this coming weekend, I am reminded of how incredible both of these men were in my life and how they helped shape who I am today. They taught me a lot, and I miss them both.

Speaking about people and perfection, I learned that I’m people too and I’m not perfect. I know, shocking!  It’s true. It took me a while to come to terms with that. We often set ambitious goals for ourselves or others, but we also need to remember that it is okay to miss the mark too. We are human after all. We will fail, slip and we will fall. The important part is what we do when that occurs. Do we acknowledge it, learn from it and pick ourselves back up, or do we lean into that disappointment and onboard guilt to punish ourselves? Guilt is a very poor fuel for motivation and improvement. It takes more than it gives. It erodes confidence and calcifies failure into a debilitating burden.

I love how we talk about science and professions as “practices”.  It is a powerful reminder that our performance is incremental.  We habitually and regularly keep trying, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, but forever learning and improving. Living is a practice too! We keep trying. Mistakes occur, but we apply our learning and steadily nudge ourselves closer to the event horizon of proficiency.

Now, if you, like me, have suffered the crushing blow of self-inflicted guilt, it’s time to lose that ailment. Give yourself a dose of mercy. Put some confidence in your fuel tank and drive.  The road ahead is full of practice, potholes and possibilities! Keep driving. Keep learning. And if you slip or falter, remind yourself, as my youngest daughter would say, “Nobody’s perfect!”

Positive Signals

When the small satellite TV dishes first started to come out, my dad decided he needed one.  Forever a can-do and frugal engineer, he signed up for the “self-installation” package.  Naturally, that translated to me being on the roof with a bag of bolts, parts and instruction manuals. The kit included a magnetic compass and directions to mount and orient the dish toward the geosynchronous satellite.  A cable ran from the dish into the house to a receiver hooked to the television.  The setup screen displayed the signal strength with an audio signal that went from a low static hum to a solid high-pitched tone when the dish was correctly oriented.  Getting the dish oriented correctly before cell phones was an all day long comedy skit with my dad monitoring the TV yelling out the status to my sister in the yard who was yelling up to me on the roof.  I made slight adjustments left and right then up and down.  There were so many blips, so many signals out there in space.  A solid tone would sing out and we thought we had it.  But no channels were coming through.  It was the wrong satellite.  On to the next. There were so many signals! A few hours later, hunting the vast spans of the evening sky and we finally had the right signal and magic started happening.  The channels finally appeared.

Did you know that humans tune in to signals too?  All around us are broadcasts bombarding us for our attention.  We are awash in notifications, news, texts, alerts, advertisements, emails, words, wishes, sounds, tweets, smells, ideas, campaigns, beliefs, hurts and joys.  It can feel like noise at times, so we hunt for the strongest signal.  What you may not know is that we are hardwired to find certain types of signals.  That’s right, like a satellite receiver dish, our attention is drawn toward certain types of signals.  Psychologist have ample empirical evidence that we are drawn to negative signals.*  The bias to tune in to and amplify negative  information far outweighs our search for positive information.  “Give me the bad news first,” is actually quite true of us.  It turns out that this negative bias starts early and is likely a critical adaptive function for survival for our human family throughout the years.  Unfortunately, it can have a profound implication on our emotional and mental health.  But it is not inevitable.  We have the capacity to choose what we tune in and what we amplify.

Where is your dish pointing?  Is your signal diet overly focused on negative information?  What do you amplify to yourself and others?  We can be deliberate about the signals we consume and rebroadcast.  Review the channel lineup that feeds into your life.  What would you add or remove to make sure the positive signals are coming through?  We need positive amplifiers to counter our negative bias. There is great news, fascinating and inspiring ideas, joy filled hope and emotionally rewarding signals all out there waiting for us. Tune in. Focus and amplify those things that are good, true, positive and encouraging.

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652533/

Failures

Is it just me or does it seem like things have a tendency to break on the weekend when the parts and service repair companies are closed? This past weekend, as temperatures outside nudged up above 100°F, a strange electrical odor started filling the house. By evening, it was starting to get warm inside.  I did a quick check of the air conditioning system.  The condenser unit outside was running, but the inside blower was not working.  Oh great!  Why is the blower not working?  Turning “fan only” mode on didn’t fix it.  I did some quick investigation on our system and discovered we have a ECM blower motor.  ECM ,which stands for electronically commutated motor, means that it is a microprocessor controlled motor that is designed to optimize efficiency. It is very cool!  I have to admit, by this point I was distracted by the tech and not focused on the restoration of service.  With the warming room and questions from the rest of my family, I was reminded to go back into incident management mode and focus on addressing the outage.

I took apart the unit and began testing the control circuit and all the voltages.  The main 110V feed was going to the motor. The ECM 24V control lines that program the motor speed were also good.  The air handler control system seemed solid, so that meant it had to be the motor itself, and very likely the microcontroller that runs the motor. Of course, some quick online searches revealed that this wasn’t going to be an easy replacement with our current supply chain issues and chip shortages. I reached out to several service companies and received several, “We will get back with you on Monday” responses.

Now the funny part of the recent adventure is that we just had the entire system inspected and serviced earlier this year.  We didn’t want to end up in the heat of the summer and unable to find service or parts to fix any issues. Yet, here we are. This is a great, if not warm, reminder that failures will occur despite all our efforts.  

Things fail.  Reliability engineering teaches us that it is not “if”, but “when”.  Because we know things will fail, we design systems and processes to mitigate those failures, restoring service as fast as possible.  Done well, failures are addressed quickly, and sometimes even automatically, helping us continue to meet our service level objectives for the particular system.  With complex systems, it can be challenging to plan for all the failure modes that can occur.  How do you know what can fail?  One way to achieve this is by probing the weakness and safety boundaries of a system through Chaos Engineering.

We often laugh that we don’t need Chaos Engineering because the apps we run inject their own chaos!  But, Chaos Engineering is not about testing known broken parts of the system. If we already know something is broken (like a motor or an app), we should prioritize and fix it. Chaos Engineering is about discovering otherwise unknown weaknesses and limits of a working system. By introducing various degrees of planned failures (chaos) into our system, we learn new ways our service levels (SLOs) can be impacted. This gives us the opportunity to learn more about the system and improve it for faster recovery when it does fail.

Learning is key.  Failures, chaos engineering and experimentation are all teachers who can impart wisdom to all who seek their advice.  And as I just experienced this past weekend, life is full of lessons.  The only true failure is the failure to learn.  We are surrounded by a laboratory of learning that can instruct us and make us better.  Let’s make sure we maximize the opportunities that come our way and implement improvements that make the systems we run, better.  Oh, and depending on your heat tolerance level, you may want to stock a spare EMC blower motor on the shelf.