I've had plenty of opportunities to learn from mistakes.
One of the most important lessons came when I first got out of the military and became a contractor. In conjunction with the Air Force we were driving commercial industry to use the latest technology to develop a better radar digitizer. Then we were going to install this device on an airborne radar platform and adopt it for other air traffic and air defense purposes.
After several bumps and challenging failures, we finally succeeded. The performance improvement was exceptional.
Despite the hard earned success I felt degraded by the failures we had along the way. I adopted a highly conservative, intensely low-risk and negative stance on future project planning.
It was a beloved mentor and coworker that helped me snap out of it. He had developed the first-ever mobile air traffic control radar, the AN/MPN-1. He told me, if failure was not an option, that radar would have never been built.
Like Thomas Edison and the light bulb, he had to figure out how not to build the AN/MPN-1 before he could figure out how to build it. Thank you Childs Ford for helping me to keep moving forward!
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