I’m sometimes asked how I deal with failure or how I keep moving forward when I struggle with perfectionism. One of the tricks is to keep a forward mindset as well as an other-minded one. The other, to borrow a phrase from Paul Jarvis, is to “view everything as an experiment.”
When everything is an experiment, the outcome doesn’t matter quite as much. A failure is a failure. Try again. A success is a joyful occurrence but isn’t to be relished too much. The success is the result of an experiment. Keep moving and keep testing. Not all experiments can be replicated. What worked in one experiment may cause different results in the next.
Viewing everything as an experiment also keeps the focus on the process and on the work, something that is key for long-term endeavors. Short-term ones tend to focus on short-term results. Long-term ones, while keeping results and goals in mind, are much more embedded in the joy of doing the work and learning from that work.
Viewing everything as an experiment keeps the ego in check, too. For a perfectionist, failure is a dangerous event. It can lead to a downward spiral of negativity and self-loathing. Keeping a right perspective of one’s work – the experiment – can sometimes protect against that occurrence. Success is equally dangerous; it can cause a person to become prideful. Viewing everything as an experiment keeps that person’s feet firmly planted on the ground and thwarts the attempts to think of oneself higher than one ought.
What do you think about viewing everything as an experiment?
Image: J.E. Smith (CC BY NC SA 2.0)