Context: This was a phrase handed down to him by his father. Was prompted about any possible mantras he lives his life by.
Text: “So I have this saying, or mantra, or life lesson, I don’t know how you really wanna classify. But my dad used to say it and still says to this day, and that’s “stay in your lane”. And stay in your lane just kinda means like don’t worry about what other people are doing, like it doesn’t really effect you. Don’t worry if they’re going out to better parties, or getting better grades. Just focus on yourself, stay in your lane, and everything will come to you. There is no need to worry about what other people are doing”
I liked this mantra as it is one increasingly applicable to the modern world. The internet has made it impossible not to constantly compare yourself to others and forced everyone to have an opinion on everything. This is not a healthy way to live your life and impedes a person’s ability to fully discover their true self. This motto also acts as an example of a familial sort of folklore. Passed down from generation to generation, folklore spread through this manner ensures that everyone in that family would at least be passive bearers of that tradition.
On my robotics team, we follow the saying “fail faster”. Starting from our first meeting, to our last match at champs, our design mentor always tells us to fail faster. By failing faster, we innovate faster. Failing faster encourages us, regardless of subteam, to think outside the box; to think big. When we know that something doesn’t work, we reflect off of it. What went well, what didn’t go well. This reflection helps us find a design or a plan of attack that works best for our team needs. We pass down the motto of fail faster both through mentors and students. Mentors always encourage us to fail faster, but so do the students. Like mentioned before, we encourage students regardless of subteam to think about side the box. Have a crazy design for a climber, or a new idea for an outreach event, let the team hear it.
The informant shared this via an electronic platform of individuals who participate in the international robotics program in a conversation about team mottos. The informant is a student on their robotics team where the motto has been passed down from student to student and shared by older students and the team mentors. The motto “fail faster” is not the official motto of the team, but is the one that students are familiar with and feel the team works by. It has also become a motto for the students as they become engineering students and adults.
This is an unofficial motto of my own robotics team, though less so than the informant. I have heard it in other teams as well as in some start-up level engineering companies and SpaceX. The idea is that if you just get something out and see it fail, you’ll move faster towards the right solution than trying to iterate in theoretical space until the design is perfect. This motto encourages members of those teams and companies to see failure as a learning opportunity more than anything. It tries to build a collaborative culture that pushes for innovation because they are okay if the mechanism doesn’t work. This motto can then overflow out of the workplace as individuals become more willing to take chances in life and try something new. They are taught to look at failure as an opportunity to learn and to make the most of it is coming up with a new solution or way forward. Furthermore, encouraging failure promotes inclusiveness. New members don’t have to be afraid of giving an idea because failure is something everyone does and experiences and the faster they get around to doing it, the more they will learn.
Be good to the earth,
respect all mankind,
with these simple words
all else falls in line.
Is this something you made up yourself?
And did he get it from someone else?
What does this mean to you?
It’s tattooed on my arm. It’s about treating people with respect and its about acceptance. It’s the only two things I try to judge people on – if people are nice to the earth and nice to others they’re probably good people.
Background: I conducted this interview live, so this story was given to me in person. This is a proverb that was invented by the informant’s dad, and he lives by it, which is interesting. He just said it is a short mantra which he lives by, and I think this is something I will continue to think about after he told me this. This is something that is so important to the informant that he has it tattooed on his arm, which says something about how highly he regards this statement. I like how it is a brief statement from which he can make many decisions and judgements in his life.