How often have you spent hours, days or even months working on a plan only to see it crumble on execution? How much time have you spent worrying about taking an action only to see completely different results than you expected?
Experimentation is not only essential to have variety, excitement and challenge in your life it is also the key to results. It is very easy to assume a lot more knowledge of a situation then you actually possess. More time spent doing and less time spent planning can allow you to learn rapidly what actually works and what doesn’t.
In looking at very successful people, one of the major traits that separates a person who improves rapidly from those who don’t is a willingness to experiment. To paraphrase Einstein, the level of thinking that has gotten us to where we are, isn’t going to get us to where we want to be.
Experimentation means investing into ideas that you don’t know what the results will be. If you have been getting poor results in an area, experimenting heavily increases the chances that you will stumble upon something that actually works. Even if you are doing fairly well, regular experimentation ensures that you aren’t settling for a level far below your potential.
Fear is the biggest barrier that keeps people from experimenting. People tend to fear the unknown and experimentation embodies exactly that. But in most areas of your life a failed hypothesis will have little impact on long-term results.
An ineffective diet, getting rejected by someone, even a first business idea that flops will almost never have irreversible consequences. If you want more information on how to handle fear, I wrote about that here.
I think it is a myth that some people are natural creative geniuses compared to others. I think the major difference in the level of creativity is largely due to the ability to act and try out those ideas. Creative people are willing to take a vague idea and bring it into reality.
Revolutionary ideas don’t form completely in the mind, they form in the world. If you are looking for great ideas that can transform your life, you need to be willing to experiment with tiny versions of them and let them grow.
Running Your Own Experiments
Nobody likes failure. But when you are simply running an experiment, there is no failure. Every result is a success because your only goal was to see what would happen.
The time to experiment is when you are in a personal plateau, when your growth appears stagnant. This clearly indicates that the way you are approaching the problem is wrong. That what you think will work, won’t. You need to start trying what you aren’t sure will work.
When you run an experiment, give it the time it needs to prove itself. You have to go into each experiment completely detached and with no expectations of the results. You’ll never be completely free of bias, but if you don’t give new ideas a chance to prove their merit you’re just wasting time.
Creative geniuses, skillful masters and rapidly improving prodigies all have one thing in common, they experiment. The world is your laboratory. Don’t waste time estimating, predicting or guessing when you can just go into the world and get the answers you need. You might be surprised what you find.