If you’re not messing up, you may not be learning (fast) enough

One of the barriers to learning most under our control is learning to mess up. Fail forward, in other words.

Where are you playing it just a bit too safe for your own benefit? What would you gain by leaning into your edge 1% more? I ask not to create pressure because “you are not doing enough and pressure is good.” This is outdated, Protestant work ethic logic, guaranteed to make every effort between a little and a lot stressful — pass!

It’s not about doing more or working harder, making yourself suffer through. It’s about creating more, to everyone’s benefit. “All” you have to do is to remove whatever’s blocking it. This is a creative process in and of itself.

Of course there are caveats to this idea of semi intentional messing up — the most obvious being not harming yourself, others, or the world.

And—risks are always present. Keep your eyes on the prize, you can always start small. Or start big if you’re resourced. Eat your heart out if you want.

What isn’t helpful or healthy, in terms of pace, is delaying or sticking to status quo because you are afraid, substituting comfort for actual self care. It’s not a race — and it’s natural for humans to move. To take some steps, learn and iterate.

This is a common approach in the startup and agile planning worlds, probably because it works — there’s research linking intentional mess ups to deeper and/or faster learning (Keith & Frese, 2008).

When we learn from them, mistakes make us smarter than we were.

Want more work tips and inspiration? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter at caseyonder.com.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store