The problem is that I’m not exactly sure what they are. The passing of time is the only thing that will actually reveal them to me. As much I want to avoid making mistakes, I know I’m doing some things right now which will just look silly or uninformed once I look back at them. Last night I was looking back at my life in 5 year increments thinking about the things I’ve done, some of the projects I’ve undertaken and how I would have done things differently in hind sight I look back to what I thought was right 5 years ago, and it seems glaringly obvious what the mistakes are. The interesting part is that it is not a one off. It seems to be true again and again – as every period of time elapses, there in the past lies a set of errors. It’s not like I am graduating from mistake making either – granted, they are not the same mistakes, but the process of making them is yet to desert me.
My history is a constant reminder of the truth. Like everyone, at least I assume, I have clear strategic and tactical vulnerability. I used to worry about it, but now I realise if what I did then, didn’t seem stupid now, then personal growth would not have been possible.
This is a favourite saying of companies pretty much everyone whose ever given advice about anything. But as we know, advice is a form of nostalgia, and while nostalgia can conjure important and worthy emotions, it’s not something to live a life by. Personally I believe that encouraging anyone to not make the same mistake twice is bad advice. Any skill I’ve mastered, which was worth mastering involved me making the same mistake over and over again. Repeating the error until I had got it entirely out of my system.
A better version of this advice is as follows: Making the same mistake is fine, so long as you are making it on purpose.
A colleague sent me this quote that I just had to share right here on startup blog. Henri Federic Albert said:
“The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.”
And that is what we must learn to deal with in growth businesses – uncertainty. Our ability to decide based on a intuition and our personal world view is becoming a rare asset. It’s what we must move towards in a world full of data, but very little meaning. The other benefit decisions give us is real world feedback. If we get it wrong we can cross it off the list and move onto the next idea.
Reading the New York Times this weekend it seems clear that the Global Financial Crisis has not diminished the ability of investment bankers to extract bonuses from poorly performing assets and even losses.
I still believe that private profits should also result in private losses. I remember back last year having a discussion with a prominent Australian Venture Capitalist. He held a strong view that the bailout activities were justified, while my view was strongly opposed.
“If a child trips and skins its knee that’s fine, but there is no point letting it fall from a 10 story building. The consequences are too great”
“It’s not a child, they’re investment bankers. And maybe what we need right now is a few of them splattered on the sidewalk.”
My view has not changed.
But it seems the general populous has a short memory as the rot is returning very quickly. In fact, it might do both our economy and our environment good to let the current system bleed for a while. Why not allow time for new eco-friendly industries and egalitarian reward systems arrive?
Startup Blog wonders what your think?
I’ve made so many mistakes since I started rentoid, but everyone of them has lead me to a new insight, idea of method. And I’m not alone, so of the greatest inventions, business and ideas are the results of mistakes or unexpected evolutions. The terrific photosharing website Flickr.com started it’s life as an on line game before evolving. The point is it’s worth letting things develop before trying to patch everything. See what path it takes us on. Especially for websites, where unintended uses often lead us to great enlightenment.
While watching this old school break dancing lesson on Youtube – one of the great forefathers of BBoy-ing Crazy Legs said something in the first minute of the video below regarding mistakes. Advice worth remembering in startup land.
When things are going well – know one ever asks any questions. Whether it’s school work, your job, your business or startup. People don’t ask analyse how they got there. They’re just glad they are.
What this means is very important for entrepreneurs:
It is possible for things to work and not know why they did. Especially if it’s our first shot at it.
Sure, we may have had a strategy, plan or even defined tactics – but they may have nothing to do with the success we achieved.
photo by Aviva
This is why mistakes are rad. It’ easy to find out where things went wrong. It’s as simple as crossing that idea off the list and moving onto the next one. We learn from mistakes, rarely success. In addition they teach us important entrepreneurial habits like tenacity. Making them also means we are not suffering from inertia.
The best days for entrepreneurs are the ones when we make the most mistakes.
How many mistakes did you make today?