Marc Maron, on his popular WTF Podcast, made an offhand remark that he does not prepare for his comedy performances. He feels that preparing is for cowards, that you need to be ready and willing to fail in your work since there is a fine line between a unique achievement and total failure. Skirting this line led him to ruin many times in his career, but it has also led him to the transcendent place he is at now. He has reached the heights of his field by putting it all on the line and risking total devastation by focusing on his Podcast, a new and untested medium at the time. Now he has one of the most popular podcasts, a TV show, and is more popular than ever on the comedy circuit.
Maron’s path to success reminds us that we need to think a bit about this frame in our own work in Political Science. Are we really willing to fail? Are we cowards? Do we skirt that fine line between success and ruin?