I have been thinking a lot about success and failure lately and how many of us, if not all of us, put ourselves in boxes and limit ourselves as to what we can accomplish and who we can be. I have all the freedom in the world right now, more than most my age, and yet even with that freedom I do not feel truly free.
And it brings me to a place of wanting to challenge myself to experiment more. Experiment with my time, with my beliefs, with my activities. To step out of my comfort zone more. To try a wider variety of new things. What I have learned about myself in these last couple of years is that when things are uncertain for me, I revert back into what is most familiar to me and I wait. I am sure these are behaviors that I have learned through all my years collecting my own experiences, and that I have been taught from those who came before me. But am I wasting some of this time as a result?
As adults we tend to get caught up in our patterns, in our belief systems, in our ways of doing things. Once we experience some level of success in some aspect of our lives, we start to become more averse to failure and tend to play it safe. But what if we challenged ourselves to not have to get it right all the time and instead to experiment with different situations and ways of doing things to allow ourselves to try and fail and learn?
I am on the board of two professional organizations, both of which want to grow and change and become better in some way. But both of which are resistant to doing things differently. In both of these organizations, I have become the voice of experimentation. I am constantly hearing myself say things like:
- “Why don’t we just experiment with this approach?”
- “We can try it and see what results we get instead of not doing anything because something “might not work”. It is also possible that it might work and get us a little bit closer to where we want to be, and we will be smarter and have feedback that could be helpful to us.“
- “Doing something is better than doing nothing.”
- “We can’t get different results if we keep doing things the same way we’ve always done them.”
It is frustrating to me in these groups that while we want different results we come up with 1,000 different reasons why we shouldn’t act on any of the ideas that the groups have brainstormed. It is this frustration with hearing these same conversations over and over that leads me to be the voice of experimentation.
At the same time, I am seeing the need to use this experimentation approach more purposefully in my own life and with my own business. As I mentioned before in times of uncertainty I tend to revert back to what is most comfortable for me and I wait. I think many of us do this (or some version of this). Instead it may be more fruitful to experiment with different approaches and take actions not worrying about failure or success, but instead focusing more on the learnings that can take place that will make us better.
We can choose to stay stuck where we are, or we can choose to move forward by taking action and learning everything we can from it, and then choosing the next best action from there. As I have heard other say “Life happens and we grow when we are operating outside of our comfort zone.” How much time do you spend living outside of your comfort zone?
What can you experiment with to move your life and business forward? A new hobby? A new way of doing things? A new business approach? A new response to old triggers? A new way of putting yourself out there and connecting with others? A new way of giving back and helping others?
I’d love to hear your perspective on this topic. Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.