Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
“”There are only three types of people:
there are people who make things happen,
there are people who watch things happen,
and there are people who wonder what the hell did happen.
Today’s post is a bit of a tribute to Stephen Pile, a writer who has kept me amused with his stories, some of which have been (and no doubt will be) recounted in this blog.
In 1976 he founded and became President of the ‘Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain’. It was an unusual organization, with unusual criteria for membership. In order to join you simply had to be ‘not terribly good’ at something – and preferably downright awful. You also had to attend meetings at which people talked about and gave public demonstrations of the things they could not do.
The application form contained lines such as “fields of special incompetence” and others.
In Stephen Pile’s own words, “The world is full of people who can only aspire to the mediocre, yet we cut sandwiches and queue in the rain for hours to watch Segovia playing classical guitar without once dropping the plectrum down the hole. For every Segovia, though, there are thousands – hundreds of thousands – who spend their time shaking the plectrum out, and it was for these that the Club was founded.”
Unfortunately it started to go wrong for Mr Pile almost from the beginning. At the club’s kickoff event — a meal at a hand-picked, third-rate restaurant — Mr. Pile made the mistake of catching a soup tureen midfall. For this blatant display of adroitness, he was instantly demoted.
Undaunted, Mr Pile continued with the Not So Terribly Good Club of Great Britain. He collected all the stories and reports on unsuccessful events and incompetences and then had the idea to publish a compilation of them in book form. Complete with a two-page erratum slip, it went on sale in 1979 and entitled “A Book Of Heroic Failures”.
Unfortunately, the book included a membership application form for the Club. It also became a best seller.
The result was predictable and tragic.
Membership rose, the organization receiving 20,000 applications in two months. Indeed it rose to the point where it became very evident that the club was – for want of another term – an undeniable success. So much so that it was in violation of its commitment to failure, and under the terms of its own bylaws had to be disbanded.
So was failure a success; or was success a failure? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.