“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”— Thomas Edison
As a kid, I LOVED school. I got good grades. I scored well on tests. It all came naturally to me.
So imagine my dismay when I realized school had set me up for a HUGE let-down later in life.
See, all those vocab tests and math puzzles had taught me to deal with a certain species of problem I’ll call problemus finitus. School-test problems tend to be solvable and finite — with a known answer.
Unfortunately, most of life’s really interesting problems don’t work that way.
With problemus mysterioso, you can’t…
- Take a set of facts
- Think really hard
- Come up with the “right” answer
There are too many unknown unknowns for that to work.
In life, “answers” only emerge in motion. You can’t just think your way to effective marketing or a brilliant business model.
But with small steps and strategic repetition, you can iterate your way to brilliance.
This is the world of rapid prototyping.
The premise: Insight, information, and experience accrue in thin layers until one day you have something both innovative and solid.
In my own business, that’s looked like:
- Commit to posting every day on LinkedIn so I get the reps in to understand what works
- Talk to people who might want to buy an offer before spending time or money on a website about it
- Test out new messaging or phrasing in a live conversation and see how people respond
There are a million little ways you can iterate to answers. The first step is noticing you may be facing a problem that isn’t actually solvable in that old way you learned in school.
Where could a little iteration go a long way in your life?
This post was original sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.