This is part of the Derek Sivers Series.
Here’s how this applies to me (and it could apply to you):
End All, Be All
When I started out with A Better Way of Business I had in my mind that I was creating the end all, be all small business consulting firm. My approach was to come along side struggling small businesses and help them “right the ship”. I was going to start by reviewing their financial data (their books) spot problems or trends, provide solutions, repeat. By getting my foot in with the numbers I was going to help them in countless unexpected ways. I was going to single handedly change small business statistics for the better.
In my mind and through my efforts I was creating the ultimate small business consulting firm. I wasn’t creating pieces or parts to a whole. I was creating the whole; the final product. The end all, be all.
However, reality stepped in and had something else in mind.
Since I didn’t create the parts, the whole never functioned. The foundation upon which the entire business was designed was sand… it was less than sand. I was building on water.
In a storm.
And probably an earthquake, too.
And what I discovered is if you try to put a building on top of water, in a raging storm, that’s also experiencing an earthquake at the same time, the building has now hope of coming together, let alone standing.
And due to my mind set of creating the end all, be all small business consulting firm, I left myself absolutely no leeway to see the outcome as anything but a catastrophe; a complete and utter failure.
With this mindset I quickly feel into a downward spiral of negativity. Of, “You’re a failure.” “See what happens when you trying something different.” “How can you help others when you can’t help yourself?” “Loser!”
The downward negativity from knowing I completely failed, due to trying to create the end all be all small business consulting firm, fed on itself and got worse and worse over a six week period.
I was ready to hang up my gloves, step out of the ring, and find another job. Give up on being self employed.
Then I came across Why You Need to Fail
It’s an Experiment
In the video Derek explains why we each need to fail more (watch the video; it’s definitely worth your 15 minutes).
One of his points is about experimentation and why we should our efforts as an experiment, not the one and only option or effort.
You see, when we experiment we are basically saying, “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen if I do xyz, but I want to find out.” So you undertake the experiment.
Supposedly, you’re not biased as to the outcome of an experiment (although frequently we are); you just want to know what happens when you do it. It’s the learning that takes place that is important, not necessarily the outcome.
When you look up the definition of experiment on Dictioanry.com you find:
a test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown or of testing a principle, supposition, etc.
By its very definition experiment refers to “… discovering something unknown…”, which tells me you don’t precisely know what you’re going to get by doing it.
I’m stressing this point because this seemingly slight shift in mindset is already having monumental impact on my way of thinking and I really want you to grasp what I’m saying here.
The effect this has had on me has stopped my downward spiral of negativity. It’s allowed me to pick my head up, shrug off the crushing sensation of failure, and march towards the future with an expectant, hopeful heart.
This happened because I stopped viewing my previous efforts at A Better Way of Business in terms of producing the end all, be all creation of a small business consulting firm and am now viewing my efforts as experiments.
I experimented in creating a “final product” and found that the results are not to my liking. So I’m going to adjust and adapt the components of the experiment and try again.
This time I’m experimenting with creating the base components, instead of the final product in one giant swoop.
If this experiment doesn’t work, I’ll adjust and adapt again, and try once more.
This shift in my mindset is huge! It’s allowing me to stop wallowing in self pity and doubts and enabling me to get back in the ring again; to try something different. My previous efforts didn’t work, so I adapt and adjust and try again.
It’s an experiment, the outcome isn’t known, but if it’s not desired, adjust and try again.
Thoughts for You
I realize that I tend to view things a little differently than most. I’ve been told that my whole life and have been confronted with it frequently as I get older.
But I know I’m not alone with my fear of failure; my effort to create the final product, instead of creating the pieces that make up the whole.
So I ask you, how could you benefit if you started seeing your efforts as an experiment instead of as the end all, be all efforts to create the next best thing?