Make Mistakes

What these things have in common is that kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong.

Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.

And we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.

And the result is, we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

-Sir Ken Robinson, from his iconic TED Talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?

There are millions of names for it.  Fear of failure.  Fear of success.  Paralysis by analysis.  But whatever you call it, all you’re really describing is an excuse for inaction.

Make Mistakes - Internet Marketing Grand Rapids

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When was the last time you decided you might want to try something new?  I mean something complicated, yet intriguing enough to consider giving it a whirl.  Maybe it’s building a website for the first time.  Maybe it’s rebuilding an old Chevy 350.  Maybe you want to try learning a foreign language.  Why didn’t you go forth with your endeavor?

If you’re like a lot of people, perhaps you looked into it.  And the only thing you really learned about it is that you know nothing about whatever it is you were contemplating.  Ten pages into Websites For Dummies and you were toast.  Your brain has already been fried be countless acronyms and symbols and squiggly brackets that you just give up.  You throw your hands up in the air and you convince yourself that you can’t learn everything you need to know in order to get started.

Or you get interrupted.  Life has a funny way of altering your priorities.  But should that stop you?  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t they?

Having been in this business for close to three years now, I am frequently asked is what would I do differently if I were just getting started.

My answer has evolved over time, but the one I’ve settled into is pretty simple: Stop thinking about everything you don’t know.  Things in general are only as complicated as you make them.  A great example is the fact that I don’t offer Social Media services.  I can give the basic advice and could probably run a successful campaign if I were motivated to do so, but the fact is I don’t have the interest level necessary to learn everything I’d need to know.  So instead of tackling those tasks, I refer the work out to professionals I trust.

I’ve also learned that I don’t have to offer Social Media services at all.  I also don’t build complex web applications.  Furthermore, I don’t create content on behalf of the client.  There are plenty of brilliant people to collaborate with for that.  I focus on what I know and what I am good at – and more importantly I focus on what I need to do to provide the best service possible for what I do.  That said, I know I will never know everything. I also know that’s ok to not know everything, and there’s no shame at all in saying “I don’t know the answer to that – but I will find out and get back to you.”

So the best advice I can give to anyone starting out is to get out there and make some mistakes.  Doing is the fastest path to learning.  You don’t need to be all things to all people.  If reading blogs and publications makes you feel like it’s impossible and you’ll never know enough to succeed, stop reading for a while.  Start putting a plan of action together and worry about execution later.  Very early on, I actually got so frustrated that I decided this wasn’t for me.  I was just burned out with trying to learn everything that I thought I needed to know.  So I actually sent an email to my mentor that I wasn’t going to pursue this and walked away from it for three days.  But I never stopped thinking about it.  That was probably the best thing that ever happened with my maturation process – because it made me realize that I wanted to do something after all.  So I created a plan, figured out what I needed to know as I went along and that was that.  After all – what is the point of learning a bunch of stuff you may never actually use?