Summary:

When you’re trying to run your own business, you need time to experiment and try new methods and approaches to your systems and your work, but you also need time to reflect on what’s working so that you can modify your direction as you go.

To paraphrase from “The Joy of Living,” a bird needs two wings: the wing of wisdom and the wing of practice.

I wouldn’t want to learn from a teacher who never experiences and only theorizes, nor would I want to learn from one who never reflects on his experiences and, therefore, never gains wisdom.

When you’re trying to run your own business, I think you need time to experiment and try new methods and approaches to your systems and your work. But you also need time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not so that you can modify your direction as you go.

I’ve talked with several business owners in the past few months who have recently become known as experts in their respective niches, and they all have said that even though they know that they’ve been at it for, in some cases, 10 years or more, it’s still hard to feel like an “expert” at what they do (or maybe it’s just strange hearing themselves called that). The truth is, though, they have been doing their work, learning their trade, figuring out how to be successful for years and have earned that title, even if it is strange to hear it themselves.

No, they still don’t get it right all of the time. They still flounder and figure things out as they go, just like the rest of us, but I still personally value their insight very much. By learning from their wisdom, even as they continue to practice, I save myself some steps here and there, and sometimes I even save myself a lot of headache and heartache from side-stepping mistakes they’ve made and that they’ve been so kind as to help me avoid.

Certainly, you want to figure out how to get it right so that (sooner rather than later) you can do the things that will help you succeed in your business, but you also have to save room for experimentation and for failure. It’s how we learn, it’s how we grow, and ultimately, it’s how we succeed.

What have been the greatest experiments of your business, whether they ultimately failed or succeeded?

Photo by Flickr user mikebaird, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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