Experimentation

I wrote in a previous post about the benefits of experimentation to open up our minds to possibilities. I heard today of a cookery book which intersperses QR codes along the way so you can link into a video clip using your phone, iPad etc.. I love it! Such ideas come about through experimentation, making mistakes, learning and enhancing.

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that we are rearing a generation of kids who feel the need to be perfect. Many won’t attempt new things if they feel they won’t be good at them. How do we change this mind-set to one of curiosity and interest in the intended and unintended outcomes?

Since my trip to Harvard in May I am now attempting to view the world as a laboratory where I can observe, experiment, challenge and hopefully innovate to see what emerges – particularly but not exclusively in the field of leadership. I have managed to spot learning opportunities in activities I was not even looking forward to. By approaching these tasks with a curious mind-set my motivation actually increased.  I have been surprised at what I have learnt about myself. For example, I am finding that the broader my interests are, the more varied the ideas I generate. Suddenly the worlds of maths, art, sport, science and leadership are merging and I am seeing connections where I never saw them before. Not everything is a success but I am enjoying the journey.

I am attending a swimming session this evening which is way out of my league (in the fabulous new 50m pool in UCD). After a challenging start last week, I am nervous about what lies ahead, but most of all I am curious about what I will learn, not just about swimming, but about coaching, motivation, and the levels of endurance I can personally tolerate. I am hoping I will be still attending these swim sessions the next time I post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: http://www.classroomjr.com

 

Fail Harder!

A key part of leadership is taking risks. Albert Eintstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. If we care deeply about something we will take a risk. If we have an illness and take the decision to take a drug that has potentially serious side-affects, we will take the drug if we feel it is a risk worth taking. In a work context we might speak out if we feel certain values that we care about are being dis-regarded. It is challenging sometimes to figure out what we care deeply about until we are faced with a situations which strike a chord with us.

Trevor Madigan of Facebook speaks about the culture of risk-taking in Facebook in the first part of this video clip. Facebook has demonstrated it’s willingness to take risks in pursuit of it’s mission “… to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected” and not always with a successful outcome. Trevor asks the question ‘what would we do if we were not afraid?’ If we did not fear failure, the possibilities are endless.

In ‘The practice of Adaptive Leadership’ by Heifetz, Linsky and Grashow the authors suggest developing an experimental mind-set by ‘increasing our tolerance for a slightly higher level of risk-taking than we might have been comfortable with before’. They suggest small things to start with for example starting the day in a different way to usual e.g. getting up earlier or later or accepting invitations we would not usually accept. This type of low risk experimenting will shake things up a little and open us up to the possibilities that are out there.

I am now asking myself the question what new risks I will be willing to take this week in the interest of something I care deeply about?