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You Know You're Experimenting When...

  • When asked, you say "This is the first time I've done this."
  • You have no map. Or as Mark Shead once said to me, "We're in unknown territory here."
  • You think, "I wonder what would happen if..."
  • You are learning something significant. (Question: What does it mean if you're not experiencing this regularly? Why not? Is it time to shake things up?)
  • Thomas_Edison,_experimenting_in_his_laboratoryYou had an epiphany or insight. (Check out Jonah Lehrer's New Yorker article The Eureka Hunt. I love this: "Insights are quiet and are drowned out by having to do stuff." - my emphasis)
  • You made a mistake or experienced failure (insert quotes around both).
  • You were surprised.
    The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...' -- Isaac Asimov
  • You are measuring something.
  • You have anxiety or are afraid of something.
  • You have a (any!) problem. (See Why Every Problem Should Be A GTD Project.)

I'm curious: How do you know when you're in the midst of an experiment? Does realizing/acknowledging it help? How do you enjoy the ride? (Check out 18 Ways To Enjoy The Ride At Work, One Way To Enjoy The Ride - Celebrate Surprise!, or Coffee, Booze, And Sex: Is It The Journey Or The Destination?)


Reader Comments (4)

you wake up one morning and realize your dreams are still dreams. A life unrealized is a sad life. If you aren't living at full tilt you are probably still experimenting. Stop experimenting and start living on purpose. Be bold, be positive, create a vision, take massive action, and celebrate success!

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

Hey, Spencer. Thanks for the really interesting take on what experimenting means. I think of it as really tasting life, instead of being held back (in my case, say) by fear of being bold. Good comment!

November 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

When my heart beats faster (either in excitement or nervousness), I constantly think that I’m out of my mind, I have no idea what to do and am at a loss for words, then I’m pretty sure I’m in the midst of an experiment.

Acknowledging my lack of experience in the activity/experiment helps me become more objective. Since I’m humbled enough to realize that I’m in new territory, I’m more open to learning and trying different things/solutions.

I enjoy the ride by simply being in the moment. If I was willing (crazy enough) to partake in or undergo the experiment, then I should be willing to enjoy every minute of it. After all, every experiment is an opportunity to learn and discover something new.

P.S. Don’t hesitate to experiment and explore – step up and enjoy life. Check out http://budurl.com/79e2 to follow the route to making more, living more and giving more.

December 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

You've summarized it so well! Thanks a million for your insight.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

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