Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fail Early, Fail Often

You aren't making enough mistakes. Don't worry. It's not your fault. You've been trained to avoid them. Instead, you should be seeking them out. Embrace the mistake.

Mistakes come with a stigma attached. From social embarrassment to losing money or property, or the loss of self esteem that can come from failing, mistakes are mercilessly punished.

Fear of mistakes stifles creativity. That's why brainstorming comes up with better ideas than simply trying to come up with good ideas. These days, creativity is more important than knowledge. If your creative ideas keep being crushed as mistakes, you'll give up on creativity remain mediocre. Instead, nurture your creativity. Give your wacky ideas room to breathe. Even if they flop, you'll learn something from them and be better for it.

It's never perfect. Whatever project you're working on, let your ideas out of the cave and into the light. Share them. Get feedback wherever you can.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If they're any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." - Howard Aiken, computing pioneer.

By sharing your idea, even if it isn't ready yet, you will get valuable feedback that you can't get by staying in your basement perfecting it.

It's better to find out sooner rather than later that an idea is doomed to fail. Waiting for perfection could improve the chances of success, but feedback from potential customers is more valuable. It's far better to find out that an idea is flawed early. That time could be better spent coming up with a new idea, or adapting to make sure you're solving the right problem.

It's great if you can learn from the mistakes of others, but remaining creative and learning from your own mistakes is powerful and will enhance your development better than always getting the right answer.

Don't be afraid of mistakes. Make them quickly, learn from them and get on to the next idea. Nurture your creative ideas and you will keep having them. Stifled creativity is worse than making mistakes. Making mistakes quickly and learning from them is far more likely to lead to success than trying to avoid mistakes.

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