The Greatest Experiment of All ~ by Marj Ivancic

     All the great inventors—the Edisons, the Carvers, the Knights—
start their innovation journey with an idea, a vision of what could be. They have an intuition and some base knowledge that leads them to believe in their concept’s potential, but they don’t know what is possible and what is not. They must figure out that part, which can be daunting to say the least. I liken it to being dropped off on a mountain in a strange land with nothing more than a compass.
     Yet, they do it.
     How? Are they super humans? Or are they just that much better than the rest of us?
     Perhaps there is a bit of that, but another key to their success is their adherence to the process of experimentation. They not only subscribe to it, they embody the philosophy and embrace its discipline. Its song is their mantra, their religion. It provides succor in the dark times of self-doubt and despair. Armed with it, they persevere and overcome countless obstacles.
     What is this magical formula?
     It’s quite simple really, though that should not surprise anyone; the eye-opening solutions usually are.

TRY->LEARN->PIVOT->TRY AGAIN

     The more I study this practice, the more I believe its adoption by us regular folk is fundamental to a happy, healthy life. I might even go so far as to say it is essential if we want to live this brief time on earth to its fullest.
     Let me show you why.

TRY->LEARN
     What lies unsaid between these two steps is perhaps THE core tenet of experimentation: failure is innate to the process. And because it is accepted and even expected, it is not shameful. Disappointment, botched, fiasco—none of failure’s synonyms listed by the thesaurus apply.
     For most people, fear of failure is what stops them from going after a dream, from trying something new. They worry about the repercussions or the detriment to reputation. They’re terrified of the embarrassment that might follow, of having to share dismal flops with friends and family. But imagine how liberating it would be if we approached new experiences as experiments? Imagine the confidence we’d have walking into the unknown knowing that failure is an option, that our loved ones would not criticize or judge us? We’d go after that dream instead of wishing for it. Very few of us would die with the regret of missed opportunity in our hearts.

LEARN->PIVOT
     These two steps really entail three: 
     1) The study of results to understand root cause and effect. 
     2) The assimilation of that knowledge.  
     3) The application of it. Inventors evaluate tests and outcomes to understand where their logic went wrong (or right) and why. They must do so objectively so as not to skew what follows with pride or anger or any of the myriad of human emotions that can derail. Then they apply their newfound knowledge to make a change that will hopefully improve future outcomes.
     For the everyday person in everyday situations, this is really all about introspection and learning from mistakes. But because they miss the “objective” part and mistakenly tie the concept to “blame,” most people avoid it. They’re afraid they won’t like what they see inside. And, let’s be honest, that’s entirely possible; no man is perfect. But a candid self-examination—understanding the role one has played and why—is what leads people to change themselves for the better. It’s what helps them change their circumstances or get out of a toxic relationship. And the better a person understands themselves, the better they can relate to (or deal with) others.

TRY AGAIN
     Experimentation is iterative, meaning it repeats. One-and-done is an unknown concept to inventors. Just because one idea trips and falls doesn’t mean they quit the whole. They exhaust every avenue, the long and intimidating ones as well as the small and seemingly unrelated. Sometimes, they step away, let things bake or mature, then come back and give it another go.
     The ability to adapt and persevere when things don’t go as expected is key not only to achieving dreams but to surviving day-to-day life. To not letting adversity and misfortune define the person. To ensuring the soul is not haunted by any lingering “what ifs.” Just think of what could be accomplished with the fortitude to try and try again? To never surrender. Or to at least make surrender work for it.

TRY->LEARN->PIVOT->TRY AGAIN
    If we apply these steps, adopt these beliefs, the possibilities are endless. I truly believe this.
    So, I write this article not as a judgement of others but as a critique of myself, as a personal inspiration for how to navigate this Life, because it really is the greatest experiment of all, and how we approach it could mean the difference between a life that is full and satisfying and one that is not.

     And I know which of those I want.

Marj Ivancic is a regular contributor to Originality by Design. You can reach out to her by clicking the links below.

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