The Ninth Day of XYMas…..Fail Big

Dec 31, 2019 | GIS

Fail big.

Fail hard.

You learn a lot from Failing.

I hesitate to use the word Fail or Failure because it’s pretty harsh and maybe it’s not a good indicator of trying something new and sucking at it. Except I deal with Failure every day as a person in a technical field and a small business owner. I have failed a lot. About 5 years ago I stopped really hating the failures and looking at it as an opportunity to be better at everything from Tech to Business to just being lower case me.

How hard have I failed?

  • One year I made so very little money I don’t even want to give you a dollar amount.
  • One year I tackled a job that had hundred of flat files and I should have loaded it in a database. Instead I decided to muck through it using Python. Oh that hurt.
  • One time I let a client call the shots on a project and I went along convinced they knew what they were doing and ignoring every red flag up until I took the hit for the job failing.
  • I have yet to write a QGIS Plugin (that was my goal for this year).


  • I learned more about business
  • I learned more about database
  • I learned how to say “No” to clients.
  • I still learned a lot from my failures and got a chance to communicate with some QGIS Developers.

So I’d highly encourage you to take a chance and fail at something. Maybe don’t flag it as a failure – but not succeeding at everything has taught me a lot. I had a question a few years ago of “Hey I want to be a rock start like you in the GIS field!” and I said “A. I’m not a rock star and B. You have got to F*&%^ up a lot….and fix it. If you can break something you can put it back together and that’s the first step.”.

Which – my super power early on in my career was not worrying about things breaking. If it broke I would fix it. I might have to sit at my desk for 12 hours but I was going to learn and make it work. I did. Be it a computer issue or a data issue – break it and fix it.

Bonus – I fail every week at something….BUT – my repeatable failures get fewer and fewer. The new failures are a whole other discussion – but I do get the chance to learn.

My new favorite thing: People screw up and this guy fixes the screw ups (I have a jeep and dream of being a tow truck one day so it’s the best of both worlds)

You may also like

FOSS4G Nashville 2022

For Posterity - here is the schedule for the FOSS4G event In Nashville. It's weird - I finally did some digging and this is the 4th Event I've run. We did one other meeting in Huntsville that I was half way involved in. We were talking last night at Jackelope Brewing...

ESRI’s File Based Geodatabase and QGIS

With QGIS 3.28.1 being released you get this one new thing that I thought I'd never see. Way back in June (2022) this popped up on twitter: Yes - GDAL 3.6 would have the ability to edit ESRI File Based Geodatabases. Back in 2014 GDAL gained the ability to read an ESRI...

Advertising and the Great Tweet

Business. It's complicated. One of the more complicated things I've done has been advertising. How do you advertise a small GIS Consulting Shop? Ads on "The Internet"? Magazine? Direct Mailings? Word of mouth? The answer is "word of mouth". That and Conferences. That...