The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.
Barack Obama, victory speech November 4, 2008, Chicago

I may have to post this quote a few times as a reminder to the “disillusioned” and cynical. It also wasn’t the first time during the campaign that Barack Obama talked about “setbacks” and “false starts.”

This afternoon, the White House released their review from the security meeting on the “systematic failure” of piecing and analyzing the intelligence to prevent the passenger to board the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, and attempt to set off a chemical bomb from his underpants.

Some important advice on how to avoid screwing up was conveyed to me by a music promoter who warned a client, “Never believe your own hype.”

Was the Christmas Day attack as much of a surprise about the efficiency of airport security or national intelligence post 9-11 as the airline crash into the Pentagon on 9-11 was to the Cold War generation? Cold War babies were always warned about the no-fly zone above and around the Pentagon. There were even numbers attached to it – how many miles or yard above before the ground-to-air-missiles took you out. Or was this a case of wishful thinking and wanting to believe we were secure?

Recently, WIRED magazine covered the subject of failure (a fascinating read) with live examples. This quote was taken from an article by Jonah Lehrer titled “Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up.”

When it comes to interpreting our experiments, we see what we want to see and disregard the rest. The physics students, for instance, didn’t watch the video and wonder whether Galileo might be wrong. Instead, they put their trust in theory, tuning out whatever it couldn’t explain. Belief, in other words, is a kind of blindness.

You can apply this theory to love and romance as well.

“That boy ain’t right.” I can see some of my old relatives and their friends looking Abdulmutallab over and leaning over with a one sentence assessment. It seemed so easy back in the day for parents, grand parents and other elders to read somebody just from a few words, body language, and behavior, sometimes even a handshake. Where does that wisdom come from? Definitely not from the ivy leagues, workshops, training or field manuals.

Because the December 25th attack was, for better and worse, a failure all around, hopefully there is an opportunity to apply the wisdoms.

From this moment forward….