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the great experiment

The Great Experiment

One day a thought occurred to me: life is everybody’s best guess.

The roads, streets, and the cars that drive on them. Pretty good guesses.

The Earth is flat? Center of the universe? Oops, bad guesses happen, too.

People experiment, learn from those guesses, and things get better.

Houses have gone from log cabins with fireplaces to solar powered million dollar complexes because guesses evolve.

My old Commodore 64 was a fun guess at the time, but this Macbook Pro is light years ahead of that dinosaur. This Mac will be extinct soon.

Who knows what’s coming next? AI is here. Driverless cars. 3d printing. Time travel? All built on yesterday’s best guess.

I’m working on a few projects right now. A book. A magazine. A side business. Some guesses are more educated than others, but I’m still guessing. It ALL starts with a guess, so spare me the 20 page business plan (btw, plan is a fancy word for a guess – and NO, I’m not against planning, just over-planning).

Poor Kodak. They guessed wrong, despite having a plan. But I can’t talk – Kodak’s failure is public, while my mistakes are seen only by those close to me. Fact: I don’t make nearly enough mistakes.

Probabilities

Guesses improve over time as long as we learn from our mistakes. Guess results on a scale look like:

impossible —> possible —> probable —> likely —> certainty —> bam!

But how do we get to a place of learning if we’re afraid to act, afraid to make mistakes, or afraid to look dumb/stupid/silly.

Ultimately, it’s about having the courage to experiment with life.

Everybody’s guessing anyway. Teachers are trying to figure out a better way to teach. Politicians are guessing which strategies will win them an election. Entrepreneurs are constantly experimenting with new tactics to get more customers or clients. Parents want their children to be the best they can possibly be.

And guesses can quickly go from bad to worse.

Bad teachers may get fired, or worse, fail to reach students and still keep their jobs.

Politicians lose elections, or worse, get elected and their guess brings innocent people to war.

Entrepreneurs lose money because of bad guesses all the time, which may affect hard working employees.

Parents screw up their own kids’ lives all the time. From generational poverty, violence, or addiction to less harmful practices such as the guilt of not living your life according to their vision or constantly comparing you to others who are doing ‘better’.

Think about this: if everybody KNEW or was CERTAIN about life, then there’d be no point. Living would be a stale, fixed, and incredibly boring exercise. Guessing, whether educated or ignorant, is a mandatory skill in life. We must get better at it.

Greatness from experiments

You don’t have to be special to guess, learn from your mistakes, and make better guesses.

You just need some guts and an attitude of, “let’s see what works.”

If you see greatness in the world (a person, work of art, a business, etc.), realize someone was brave enough to guess, learn from those guesses, and improve over time. The work of art is just their latest guess.

Greatness is the result of many, many, many experiments over time.

So what are you waiting for? Start guessing already.

Paul

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