BY WILL FOSTER
What is the most important thing to you? Ideas? Money? Success? What do you want the most of all. Who would you become if you had it?
We all want to be successful; to find a get rich scheme that actually works. We try, we fail, we look for another way. We are a culture that strives for success and popularity. We love to gossip about celebrities and to point fingers at those around us, especially at ones that appear to be more successful. People want to be in the spotlight, so they do the same things that others did before them to get there.
There is nothing wrong with becoming successful, but it depends on the heart behind success. What’s your idea of success?
My theory used to be that popularity equals success. I went down the path of least resistance to gain this acceptance; I watched how other people would become successful, and I tried their methods. I found myself failing over and over to be the ideal concept.
I realized that I needed to get a different perspective. I’ve been avoiding the idea of failure for years because I was afraid of it, but I’ve been retooling my ideas over the last few months. I think of all the ways that I could possibly fail, and I end up talking myself out of most of my ideas. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I needed to rethink my policy for failure. I’ve spent more time learning and reading over the last year than I have ever before.
A story called “Bubble Houses” on 99% Invisible caught my attention. It’s about an architect by the name of Wallace Neff who designed houses for the Hollywood elite of the 1930s. Neff’s story isn’t about the expensive and elaborate buildings. Near the end of his career he had an idea for a quick way to create low-income housing for underdeveloped countries. Neff brought these Bubble Houses to underdeveloped communities and even built one for himself in Pasadena. He regarded these Bubble homes to be his greatest achievement despite the famous buildings that he had created for Beverly Hills, but his idea was regarded a failure by his colleagues.
Neff designed Bubble Houses to be constructed in 48 hours using a construction method that is still used today for modern & low cost building construction, particularly by the companies Monolithic and BiniShells. Nearly 2,500 were built in Pakistan, Egypt, Liberia, India, Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait, South Africa, the Virgin Islands, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, and Brazil, according to the 99% Invisible article.
I’ve witnessed through this story that a man continued to do something different despite negative critique. He did something that others said could not be done, but it was not accepted because it was “different.” Neff turned away from the success of making homes for the Hollywood elite to make affordable homes for everyone. Now, there are large building manufacturing companies that take this design into different shapes and sizes. How is that defined as a failure? What if Neff had given up on his idea; was it a lost cause?
At what point do you break out and do something completely unordinary, even if the only thing that you can expect is to fall on your face? At what point do you just give up and do your own thing? Does failure scare you?
I leave you with these recommendations for links that I’ve recently watched or listened to that have taught me more about the people and culture around me.
Netflix Documentaries To Watch
Podcast Episodes To Listen To