Every kick is a boost

First I want to congratulate teams 1279, 103, and 375 on their win at the NJ regional last Saturday. They were worthy opponents and it was a pleasure to compete with them. Further congratulations to all the teams that were there. Huge obstacles were overcome by every team just to be a part of this great event.

Sunday morning, a morning I should have had no trouble sleeping in, I woke early, my mind replaying the events of the end of the regional, frustrated at never knowing what the outcome would have been were it not for simple human error. In the final winner take all round, our robot just sat there hopping up and down in frustration as our two partners, longtime team friends 56 and 237, made an incredible attempt at saving the day. I want to thank them for their heroics, and their drive teams very gracious professionalism at accepting the outcome of the match. Our drive team also did a fantastic job over the course of the competition. A Silver medal is something to be very proud of! There is still however a feeling of failure.

Whether it be a incorrectly reset robot that possibly cost a regional win, or a mathematical error that caused a multi million dollar probe to crash, stuff happens (sorry Mr. Lavery, we know it wasn’t your team that caused the problem, and it is a great example). The human brain is one of the most fantastic things in existence, capable of incredible innovation and creativity far beyond the abilities of any machine. Some days, however, that same brain may have trouble remembering where it put the keys to the car, something a machine could do in less than a hummingbird’s heartbeat. We make mistakes, and so we should do our best to anticipate and make things fail-safe. Our teams error might have been avoided with something as simple as installing a little blinking red light that indicated the pneumatics were unpressurized, or by providing a neutral position in our gearbox. A simple 3 point pre flight checklist religiously recited with a third person confirming that it had been done could also have saved the day. Unfortunately none of these things were in place. When you win you win as a team, and when you lose you lose as a team. We have to accept what happened and move on.

I decided that to get past this I needed to refocus my attention. I spent a good portion of the day thinking and jotting down ideas about how to help make our team better. What did we learn from our strategy. How should we further develop our web site. What should our team be doing for the next 10 months so we can make a great showing in 2006. Then we all went to a movie as a diversion (Robots, of all things! It was quite good). I don’t let things go easily however, and I don’t think I am alone in this, so I decided to start this thread.

My father in laws favorite advice to give was that every kick is a boost.
So here’s the thread. I am interested in how other people have dealt with the kick of human error, an error in design, in judgment, or in execution. Share what happened, and how you moved on. How did it boost you to be better and stronger? I’m sure there are many stories out there that will help the young people we work with (and not so young) turn this type of let down into a positive experience. This is not a thread for any complaints about things that happened in the past, but a discussion about how to move forward to greatness.

A few thoughts.

  1. Hindsight is 20/20. The important thing is that at the time you did the best you could. This is one thing I ought to practice what I preach. This was my first year as coach, and there’s about a zillion things I could have (should have?) done differently. I should have played more offensive this match, and I should have remembered to watch the clock that one, and I should have checked to make sure the darn battery was charged, or that the zip ties were in place. But at the time, I did my best, and I’m proud. And things really did turn out alright in the end.

  2. Sometimes you just need to ride out the storm. It seems at times that my team gets rather upity when things are rough. We begin thinking about what we can change, before we give what we have a chance. Sometimes, if you just wait, things will get better. Patience. That’s not to say never change, because i think change is necessary for growth, but give the current configuration a fair chance to shine. Maybe it just takes a little time to gel.


Took the words right out of my mouth.

I had nightmares over what I could have done better every night at the Chesapeake Regional.