Trial and Error

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We all do a fair amount of trial and error in our lives. As much as we’d like to think that we can control the world through getting educated and taking exact steps forward, we still really have not much clue about what we are doing.

Achievement comes from this trial and error, and it seems to me that quite a lot of successful people aren’t successful because they got advice, took it, and it worked. They achieved success because they kept trying different things out, and one time the thing they tried worked. Maybe, in the past, when apprenticeships were a thing, you could learn how to successfully paint a horse because your master taught you how to paint a horse the way he learned to paint a horse. But that didn’t mean that you were going to then be successful as an artist. You may turn around and be the most successful apprentice or be able to create replicas of other people’s work for a living.

To become a great artist after you’ve learned to paint the horse, you then have to take risks, try different marketing techniques, figure out who you really want to target with these paintings, try different things to see what makes your work stand out to the crowd.

What I find interesting is that we have a system where people write books, sell courses, and take on mentees or employees and say, “this is how it’s done, go do it as I did.” But they usually neglect to also say, “but I learned all of this through trial and error. my advice may not work for you.” They make guarantees that, if you follow their guidance, you will succeed. And if you don’t succeed, it’s your own fault because you didn’t listen to what they said, you weren’t willing to put in the work. And yes, it is your own fault. But it’s not your fault because you didn’t follow their teachings to a T. It’s your fault because you didn’t bother to take their advice with a grain of salt and do your own experimental trial and error.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, no matter what you’re actually trying to achieve in life, whether that be good parenting, being a Grammy Award-Winning musician, creating films, coming up with the next cancer-killing treatment, it’s all about practicing. And it’s not just about practicing. It’s about trying something, writing down whether it worked or not, and then trying something else.

And maybe, along the way, you also need just a bit of good, old-fashioned, right-place-right-time luck.

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