How To Be Your Own Experiment

January 3, 2013 — 5 Comments

iStock 000002653485XSmall 300x207 How To Be Your Own Experiment

“If you call failures experiments, you can put them on your resume and claim them as achievements”

-Mason Cooley

Have you made a New Year’s resolution?  I am always astounded at how many folks tell me that their resolution is “the same as last year.”

It’s often the same with our leadership. We read the books, we take the course, we build our action plans.  We keep working on the same stuff, it gets better for a while and then we hit a snag.  Perhaps we revert back to our old behavior.  That’s when the real work begins.

Hmm…  Perhaps we are going about it the wrong way.  What if instead of a New Year’s resolution, we approached 2013 as an ongoing experiment toward what we are hoping to become.

I’ve been intrigued by the book, Change Anything:  The New Science of Personal Success.  It’s not a leadership book per say, but worth a read, particularly if you are serious about making a significant change.

Be The Scientist and The Subject

What struck me most in terms of application to leadership was the concept of “being the scientist and the subject.”

Whether working to lose weight or changing your leadership approach, it’s not about following someone else’s diet or following the steps outlined in a leadership course.

Instead what works best is trying something new and carefully paying attention to how that worked… adjusting… and trying again.

The changers we studied discovered what worked for them through a scientific process of trial and error.  They didn’t get it right the first time.  in truth, when people are struggling with tenacious habits, few ever do.  Instead they took two steps forward and one step back — and sometimes the reverse.  But they had a skillful way of learning from their setbacks so that their plan evolved in a deliberate direction.  They snipped a little here and added a little there.  They tried a new technique, observed, learned and tried again.  Day by day, week by week, they moved forward until one day their plan addressed all of their unique challenges– and they succeed.

Change Anything author Kerry Patterson and team go on to share how identifying critical moments, vital behaviors and understanding the sources of influence can all inform this personal experiment.

“If you want to succeed…you’ll have to give up the hope of simply being the subject of some smart person’s discovery.  You’ll have to be both the scientist and the subject– in search of the most important science discovery of all:  how to change you.”

How can you “turn bad days into good data?”

When your resolution becomes an experiment, even mistakes can be progress.

What is your 2013 experiment? 

How will you be both scientist and subject?

Subscribe to Let's Grow Leaders!
Never miss a blog post.

It's free, thought-provoking, and practical. Rest assured that I will never sell your e-mail address.

5 responses to How To Be Your Own Experiment

  1. Thanks for sharing this book resource. I trust your advice and have added this to my reading list.

  2. great post. I like the idea of working on your own personal growth but perceiving it as an experiment. It would seem to make it less personal; to bring the scientific approach might make shortcomings less painful. This post reminds me of a great book by Atul Gawande
    called Better. In it he says we should be paying attention to something. Just pick something and focus on it. Learn about it. His subsequent book Checklist: A Manifesto is the result of his paying attention to how to perform better as a surgeon. http://www.amazon.com/Better-Surgeons-Performance-Atul-Gawande/dp/0312427654/ref=la_B00458K698_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1357218944&sr=1-3

  3. What I’ve found useful is having an ongoing journal. Especially on a significant project. I write down my thoughts in regards to how I was feeling on the good, average, and poor days.

    It’s like reading a script or watching a motion picture unfold.

    In the end, it’s all a game. It’s all made up. Decide in advance what you want your story to be.

  4. Steve, I wish I could do better with a journal. I know so many folks for whom that works well. I like your view of it all being a game…. that makes it more fun and easier to experiment.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>