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The tried and true way is the right way

Victor Leung
Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science.
Originally published at victorleungtw.Medium on ・5 min read

If you ever walk a dog, you would be amazed by the curiosity the puppy has. A short fifteen minutes walk would take one hour, because the dog would get interested in every single tree along the way, stayed and smell every area and even try to taste every leaves on the road. Sometimes, the dog would wonder how different things taste like, ranging from rubbish tissue paper to rotten fruit fallen on the ground. It seems never to get tired of trying new things, while I did not bother to wonder the nature when every tree looks the same along the road.

This dog reminds my belief that the tried and true way is the right way. If the dog stops discovering, how would it know if the food tastes good or not? From a human perspective, it does look silly to try to put everything in its mouth. And it does not make sense to try chasing a motorbike that is passing by. However, what the puppy see is a world full of adventure. A short walk is full of challenges from other bigger dogs, and they could run towards you out of nowhere and bark at you with unreasonable aggressiveness. Or if the dog is fortunate, It could be a wonderful night to meet with other attractive dogs to breed. Or if the dog is unlucky, it may run away from its owner, lost in the middle of a dangerous city, not able to get back his comfortable home. If the puppy did not pay attention to details on every single tree along the way out of curiosity, how would it get a chance to recognise the right way back home? The amount of energy levels towards new things is a virtue to survive in this world full of uncertainty.

On the contrary, we as adults lose interest to try new things sometimes, we get into the old habit, stop learning new tricks and not even bother paying attention to the news. It would be hard to change if we hold a wrong core belief. You should be a sceptic about fake news and try to verify the truth. Take the side that experimented and tested many times in the past and proven to work well.

As I am getting more mature, sometimes I am oriented towards the result instead of the process of experimenting. Take the example of walking the dog, it makes sense for a human to finish the path in fifteen minutes instead of stopping by every tree taking an hour. However, what we missed is to the smell of the flowers, appreciating the architecture of buildings along the way, and wondering the nature with an amazing sky on top of a full moon and millions of stars. There is much that we can learn from them instead of always focus on productivity.

The process is enjoyable to experiment with the truth by themselves, rather than being told the fact without our effort to discover. Continuous improvement is possible with the ability to quickly and cheaply run huge numbers of experients. This applies not just at a personal level, but also in companies culture, where employees could be encouraged to propose any ideas, even outlandish ones, that they think may improve something. Testing can be easily done online by analysing the responses of a random sample of users who see a new feature or function compared with the people in a control group who do not see the change. The ideas that work, according to predetermined criteria, could then integrated.

Success is achieved by conducting tests frequently and making experimentation and innovation a matter of culture and a normal expectation of daily work. People at all levels must learn to value surprises even if they are disruptive in the short term. When things are going too smoothly, it probably means problems are being hidden.

Be patient with uncertainty. Ask questions and tap into your innate curiosity. Let go of perfection and allow yourself to fall, and get up again. Learn to fail or fail to learn. There is no other way. Be more compassionate and more accepting of flaws and failures, seeing the dog eating rubbish like a fool, we were once as silly as him when we were a baby open to learning. It is an essential part of the process.

The best way to get started on the path to experimenting with the world is to think about what you want to learn. Commit to learning it in front of others. Find a scenius, pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing. Forget about being an expert or a professional, keep a beginner mindset and paying efforts. You will learn a ton as you start experimenting and over time you will start seeing new opportunities everywhere.

Having a mindset of experimentation will encourage you to explore beyond what you feel most comfortable doing. Many people stick to the same routines, the same narrow set of methods, they apply to learn everything. As a result, there are a lot of things they struggle to learn because they don’t know the best way to do so. Copying exemplars, running tests and pushing to extremes are all ways to push outside your ingrained habits and try out something different. That process will teach you now just abstract learning principles but concrete tactics that will accommodate your personality, interests and strength.

The act of learning itself is a kind of trial and error. Practising directly, getting feedback, and trying to summon up the right answers to problems are all ways of adjusting the knowledge and skills you have in your head to the real world. Try out different approaches and use the ones that work best for you.

To get into the right mental space for experimenting, you need not only to see your abilities as something you can improve but understand that there is a huge number of potentials and realizing that potential. Experience is what you get when you did not get what you wanted.

To know what you want in life, you must begin to live. Do not just sit and think about a good life, we must take action to experient how to reach a good life. I believe that the tried and true way is the right way for us to live, allow us to identify our true desires, our purpose and reaching personal happiness.

Originally published at http://victorleungtw.com on July 9, 2021.

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