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How often have you been told that failure is part of the growth process? That mistakes are worth it?
It is worth it. It’s part of the inspiration and innovation process that gets big ideas out there and turned into something of value.
Still, we often hesitate to take the steps needed to uplevel ourselves and our work because we typically go through a series of failures to get where we want to go. And, it can feel painful to go through this process.
I like to call this failing forward process… experimenting. If everything is an experiment, you must go through the process to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how to keep moving forward with information that comes out of each trial run.
Sometimes what you do works the first time. Most of the time, however, you will go through a series of trials and errors before figuring it all out.
It pays to get addicted to the process of changing, challenging yourself, and seeking new solutions.
It pays to become an experiment junkie.
Episode 109 Show Notes
Episode 109 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark Episode 109 Becoming an experiment junkie. This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? Yeah, mm hmm. The law of probabilities. The more things you try, the more likely one of them will work. Jack Canfield, Trying new things can be hard, especially if you’re out of practice. But most people that are listening to this podcast have many years of experience and insights from the successes and failures along their journey. And I am the same way. So when I do start something new, I’m not starting from ground zero anymore, right? I come to each new thing with some experience in some part of life and I always find something from my past that helps me as I try something new in the here and now and quite honestly, when I look back, I don’t know when that all started because it starts so young all the way back when we learn that we’re going to get another bite of food if we patiently wait or that we see our parents opening the bottle or taking something out of the stove or microwave or refrigerator. We kind of are like Pavlov’s dogs, right? We learn to have a conditioned response knowing that there’s usually a reward for certain actions that our parents are babysitters take to give us food. And of course we learned something along the way with crawling and walking, whether we remember it or not, it’s just that back in those days, at the beginning of our lives, we aren’t afraid most of the time, right? We fall down, we get hurt, but we kind of get back up and try again because what we want must be greater than whatever the pain is we feel by falling on the floor and not grabbing that special toy or that cookie that were actually seeking. But somewhere along the way, we have harder lessons learned and learn to avoid some things and learn to take another way because something’s produce far much more pain are actually are dangerous for us. But for myself and for those people I typically coach or consult with, we are not in actual physical danger. Most of the time our danger comes from getting stuck in following a certain standard or process and using a particular system to get work accomplished and not realizing perhaps along the way that we have to continually change it up and learn and grow because different methods are introduced all of the time that will help us progress. And so we have to get used to failure if we want to call it that if we want to move forward. And I know a lot of people don’t like calling things failures nowadays, but it’s kind of helpful to do so for me because I haven’t looked at most of my work life as A series of failures. I’ve looked at it more as a series of experiments and I remember back, this is about 10 years ago when I was going through the process of leading some mobile learning initiatives in our organization and a lot of people had mixed feelings about mobile possibilities at that point, right? Not everyone had a smartphone, there was still a lot of smart phone and blackberry phone and flip phone combinations in the workforce of people that I was surrounded by and I wouldn’t say I was a super early adopter of mobile, but I had a blackberry for a few years before I bought an iphone probably in the first year to that it was offered. And overnight I realized the amazing possibilities that were available to me with this smartphone and I became an advocate for it as I interacted with people who were naysayers were not interested in making the change and part of this mobile initiative at work, we had to experiment, we had to try different things and a lot of people were afraid of failing and I had to kind of couch it in the fact that listen, we’ve set aside money and time to work on this and you’re experimenting, you’re finding out what works, what doesn’t work. We’re going to discover what people are actually interested in and what they’re not. And the only way to do that is to make the mistakes and to feel like we’re a failure along the way as we figure this out. Now, a small group of us decided that we would learn from some of our organizations partners, how to create mobile apps. So we gathered together and we were experimenting with J Query Mobile, which was very popular at the time and realizing that maybe we didn’t need to make an actual app. Maybe we could make a web app which is essentially just going to the website and it would look like it was an app. And of course, there was some extra program required for this. And as I started in on it, I started realizing, you know what, this is not a really sustainable approach. Maybe we need to just look at a simpler web page with less on it and get really good at navigation in a way that serves both the people on the mobile device, whether it’s a small phone, a phablet, a tablet or desktop or laptop screen, right. And of course that started to come in the next few years. The responsive design. And we used to have to seek out people that could do responsive design. But over the years we don’t even have to do that. If you use WordPress or some of these other tools, they’re automatically responsive design, which means that whatever device you are on, it will resize itself to fit that particular need on that particular screen. So you’ve all experienced this at this point in your life, I believe, right, if you get on your phone, sometimes there’s a very simple interface. You don’t see all the navigation instead. You see three small lines and you know to click on that because there’s a menu hidden in there. But if you were on a tablet, it may or may not have those three small lines that signal to you that there is a hidden menu. And definitely when you go on a desktop or a laptop, those lines usually disappear and you see the full navigation available to you. This is responsive design when it’s done right now. If you’re curious as to how this works, just go on a desktop or a laptop and take the upper right corner of the browser window. If you’re in windows and do whatever you need to do. Uh huh. And a Mac because I’m not as good with the browser’s Mac but just pull it in and as you pull that browser in to make it look smaller like a tablet, you’ll start to see everything on the page switch around. Things that were across the page are now going up and down the menu disappears into the small little menu, it’s called a hamburger menu and you have a different experience. But all of this is done very elegantly. And the reason it’s done very elegantly is because people realized that something wasn’t working on their phones, something wasn’t working on their tablets. It was a different experience than sitting at a large screen. And they went to work on thinking about ways to improve it. And this is how inventions come right. This is how innovations come. Someone doesn’t like something, it causes some kind of pain and someone goes to work on making it better. And what we often find is a lot of people in the world go to work all at once. It’s almost like the innovative idea is planted in our minds and we just get to see who actually takes that idea and runs with it and does something. And the interesting thing is we can do all of the thinking in our head that we want of analyzing and thinking about the different options. But the real power comes when we take that and do something with it. When we’re willing to go out and put something on the internet, when we’re willing to go say, here’s my rough draft and we send it to someone to look at. And for some reason, after we take that action, we get the next level of inspiration. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s kind of like when you send the email and after you send it, like, oh, shoot now, I know what actually I meant to say, right, and you can kick yourself and you will most likely kick yourself for sending the email, but instead take what you learned and apply it to the next email you send. I did this this weekend. I sent one of my clients like these really long emails saying, well, you know, kind of asking permission to take the next step because I wasn’t sure if I had permission. I want to respect the number of hours. I don’t want to just be running willy nilly, trying to like break up money. But part way through the weekend I felt inspired and I’m like, what am I doing waiting? They have said they need this need filled and I know how to fill it even if it’s just a rough draft and the act of sitting down and going, I will do this mattered because all of a sudden some things fell into place very rapidly and I was able to do about five hours worth of work, Which would maybe take me 10 or 15 hours another day. But I felt just inspiration flowing through me on what next steps to take. Got it all down, sent it to them and I don’t know if they like it yet or not, but I feel good about it, right. It’s a good rough draft. And from that rough draft we will be able to take a second look at that and go wait, We can even simplify it further from here, We can make this better. Have you thought about this? Let’s take this and run with it and see what happens. I’ve talked about this a few times in the past but I’ll bring it up again. It’s important to take time to become really good at working from a blank slate and I call it a blank piece of paper because when you have a blank piece of paper with nothing on it, you can sit there and stew about what is possible or what you should write and all those things. And I encourage you to just start writing on it because the act of writing on it, the act of getting ideas out actually brings more ideas and you fill that piece of paper and it will be draft. It will not be perfect and then be willing to take that to someone and get their thoughts and insights and then pay attention to the further insights and innovations that come to your mind as a result of filling that piece of paper. The world is very good at critiquing something that exists right? You give someone a document with incorrect words on it, poor grammar and people will get you. Mhm right away right and you’ll get yourself to like shoot why did I send that? I did that last week with a webinar tip sheet. I sent it over. I read it like two days later I’m like what the heck. I didn’t even proof read this did I? Because I found a couple of sentence errors and a couple of mistakes that somehow I overlooked and my desire to get out what I had promised that day but I got it out and there are tips in there that helped a few people despite the grammar issues that were present. We have lots of editors in this world, we have lots of critics. But if you can take the blank piece of paper, get something on it and get it out there for all the critics and editors to look at. You’ve made an important step because then it’s out there and once it’s out there it can be improved and further innovation and inspiration can come but it cannot come. If the paper is still blank. This requires becoming an experiment junkie, You must be addicted to this if you want to progress in your work, if you want to up level, if you want to change careers, if you want your business to grow, if you just want to be the best employee ever in your current job, be an experiment junkie and if it helps tell people that when you send something out, say this is just a draft, I know it’s just a draft, please give me your insights, rip it apart. Help this become a better idea. This is an experiment. There is in historical writing and scripture the idea that you must experiment upon the word and I encourage you to take that concept into your work. You must experiment on the thoughts that come to your mind, you must experiment upon the principles you here and on the processes you see and on the products that you’re part of creating, keep trying different things and when you find something that works, streamline it, make it keep working, keep doing the thing and then keep noticing. If you need to tweak it and make it better. Show up, fascinated, show up, curious, show up, willing to be wrong and to constantly tweak and try things. And I guarantee you that as you do this, not only will you get better, but people around you will get more comfortable experimenting, making the mistakes failing because they know it’s a safe space to do that. And they also know that there will be something good that comes from it and in the end you may not even be using the idea you initially got out of your mind right? It will continue to morph and grow as you flex those mental muscles. And in this way it’s good to be a junkie, right? It’s good to be someone that’s willing to change and improve and grow and put those ideas out there. So good, so important. I continue to make mistakes. I continue to fail. I’m embarrassed in the process, but I learn and grow and I open up and tell people about these mistakes because I want them to know that I’m going to keep trying. Every week now I get into my facebook group and go live with live coaching or live training. I’m not perfect at it, but the act of doing it is helping me get better and along the way, a few people pick up a few nuggets that they’re enjoying and I think you think about and I am very lucky that people feel comfortable pushing back on me and they say, what about this idea? Have you thought about this? Why did you say that? And they question me and as long as I remain open to that questioning, I will learn and grow. I was talking to one of my brothers this week craig. He likes to question things, he likes to push back. And it was interesting because there was a conversation we were having one afternoon where I felt like every single sentence I said he pushed back with, No, I don’t think that’s the thing. Or what did you think about that? Or why are you thinking that? And I don’t think that way. And I really enjoyed it because first of all I knew he was listening, right? He was active listening. Secondly, it forced me to think about what came out of my mouth, right? Just like coaching things come out of our mouths and the coach ask us why, what did you just say? What did you mean by that? Why did you say that? And I was able to decide whether or not I agreed with myself or if I wanted to modify my thought or if I wanted to change it right. It gave me a second chance to clarify and to think through something and it’s so powerful to have people that you can do this with. Now, they can have whatever reasons they want, right? You can feel like they’re being a jerk or they’re being the devil’s advocate or they are just not going to change themselves. I just said, I don’t really care what their motive is sometimes, right? If that process helps me process what I think, if it helps me process a new idea or decide to actually go experiment, to see if what I’m talking about actually works or to go reflect more to see if my story I’m telling myself is actually legit and real and effective as I think it is. Make sure you keep up the experiments, you experiment your way to the success you want, you experiment your way to creating value in the world and in your work. And if you keep that in mind, the failures don’t feel so bad. Or at least, you know, if they do feel bad, they serve a purpose, right? And that goes along with something I keeps saying over and over. No experience is wasted. Unless of course you waste it. Don’t waste it. My friends keep the experiments going, know that the mistakes and the failures are part of the process. It’s the means to the end. And of course when you get the end, you will see a new horizon and you’ll want to go there too, because you’re just like that, aren’t you? You’re one of these people that keeps going and keeps growing because you continually move your desk mental and otherwise, okay. My friends have a great day, b an experiment junkie. It’s okay. Talk to you soon. That’s mm. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it. I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at move your desk dot com. Mhm.