‘…are all forms of failure equal?’

Circle Editor, Maureen Nolan
Circle Editor, Maureen Nolan

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell in his collection of short stories entitled, ‘What the Dog Saw’ posed that very question about failure comparing the relationship between the experience of ‘choking’ and ‘panic.’

Choking, he wrote, is a very specific kind of failure, that is a left brain function resulting from over-focus, being overly concerned and overly careful and being over-prepared and thinking too much.

Choking is loss of instinct – it is conscious learning that is explicit, is counter-intuitive and outside of awareness; it is paradoxical failure to fail in something you’re good at. So, in summary he suggests that poor performance in this situation does not reflect the innate ability of the performer – sometimes a poor test score is the sign not of a poor student, but of a good one.

Panic, Gladwell wrote, is a right brain function and a type of failure that results from being under-prepared and unaware – from thinking too little; it is implicit, unconscious learning, perhaps repetitive and/or intuitive in nature. Panic is reversion to instinct and it causes perceptual narrowing and is a conventional failure.

Other Failures
by Mother Nature

Much of the east coast of the USA was hit hard by Hurricane Irene in the end of August.  Millions of people were without power, phones, cable and internet connections; some still are. Gratefully, after not quite two weeks, Circle publisher, Kerch McConlogue,  has her technology back .

The Circle staff apologizes for any appearance of lack of interest or unpreparedness with the late newsletter publishing.