You like to Do Things Well, to be known as a person who Does Things Well.
You feel good about Being Needed, being known as a person who is Pivotal To This Project/Family/Organization/Group of Friends.
You get energy from Making Things Happen Right, having a reputation for being able to Do This or That Thing Beautifully.
I hear you, superstar. I like all that stuff, too. A lot.
And I want to ask: What could change for us if we re-framed everything in our lives as an experiment?
Since I wrote this experiment post, I've slowly moved further and further in the everything-is-an-experiment direction, and I am shocked. Totally shocked.
It's so freeing.
And while I like Doing Things Well, I'm starting to like Freedom a whole lot, too.
Courtney Carver wrote this great article recently: How to Quit Anything Without Feeling Like a Failure. She has several suggestions for us, and I particularly like this one:
Replace the word failure with human. Instead of thinking or saying, “I’m a failure,” say, “I’m a human.”
And I'd like to add one of my own:
Frame everything you do as an experiment.
Okay. Sounds lovely. Kind of semantic. What does that mean, really?
Here's what it's looked like in my own life:
- Working with an education org on their annual fund: "We're going to try this. I've seen it work other places. Here, it's untried. It's an experiment. Let's see how it goes." This one is allowing us to get out of the box of Not Screwing Up What We've Done Before. You know that box, right?
- With my kiddo: "You can earn money for doing extra jobs around the house. Here are the jobs, and here's how much you can make. It's an experiment." This one allowed my husband to gently suggest to me that we needed to re-set Our Original Expectations about how hard jobs are to six-year-old proportion.
- With a couple I'm coaching who are making multiple big life transitions: "Take this small Step, and see what happens. If it doesn't feel right, we can adjust, because it's an experiment." This one let me recommend something hard to swallow without making it All or Nothing.
- With The Letters Project: "Call it beta, and try a tiny Version. If it doesn't work out, I won't do it again. You can do that, because it's an experiment." This one let me try something new without Staking My Worth on it.
- With my nonprofit's budget: "We'll put these grant dollars in, and we won't do anything on the project until we find out if we get it. If we don't get the money, we don't do the project." This one let us Think Bigger without feeling so damn much pressure.
- In some teaching I'm doing: "Hey guys, this is a total experiment. We'll give this a go, and if it stinks, we'll try something else." Several times, it did stink, and I didn't feel stupid in front of the group. I actually felt good about modeling what it looks like to Try And Try Again.
Always wanting to be the people who Do Things Well, who are Needed, who Make Things Happen Right--that can really hamstring us.
I'd love to know what could happen if you re-framed the choices and experiences in your life as experiments. Could you get out of the Not Screwing Up What We've Done Before Box? Or re-set those pesky Original Expectations? Or escape the All or Nothing space? Or sidestep Staking Your Worth on it? Or Think Bigger? Or feel just fine about Trying and Trying Again?
How free could you be if it was just an experiment anyway?
I love you, and you are not alone.