Yesterday a conversation about experimentation, inspired by the Responsive Organisation, prompted this reflection:
Thanks @TimMahlberg Life is just a series of intriguing experiments.
— Simon Terry (@simongterry) February 11, 2014
To grow in life and work we experiment
We like the comfort of plans, order and progress. We hope that our lives will deliver a straight-line path to our goals. We feel the pressure to be able to lay our actions to others in a plan with a high degree of certainty. This pressure is magnified in a work context where the expectation of managers is often to demonstrate confidence, certainty and control.
Life is chaotic, uncertain, creative and constantly changing. Just like us.
The only way to manage that volatility is to experiment, to grow and to change a little bit at a time. If we don’t become more responsive, we wither:
- Some people let the uncertainty overwhelm them. Paralysed by fear they stop and wait for some clarity. Success moves by them.
- Some people let the scale of the challenge overwhelm them. They are concerned that they they won’t finish. If you don’t start, you can’t grow the ability to solve for the scale.
- Some people fear their own goals, worrying that they might be too daunting or not bold enough. Without confidence in a direction to start, they don’t start and miss the chance to shift to better goals as they learn more about the world and themselves.
- Some people worry about being changed. They experience change is their external environment forces them to change and that’s rarely a path to success.
In every case, the alternative is to do something small one thing at a time, to experiment, to learn and to grow. My experience is that success follows those times that I took a chance. I grow when I put myself in a place where I have to learn more to get the job done. I may not have known how it would end, often it ended up somewhere new and better, but the lessons of the experience will showed me what I needed to know & do next. You don’t need to be reckless, but take small actions to experiment with the water in the deep end.
It won’t be easy. Success never is. Success is rare and precious. Success is the reward for risk, learning and effort. Success comes when you respond better to the opportunities before you.
What experiment will you try today that takes you one step closer to your goals?