What better topic to make my first official post for 500 Words A Day September*, than The Art of Screwing Up. Seeing as it’s September 3rd and, counting the opening to this post, I’m at an astounding 279 words. Just about 1,250 off pace.
But I’ve learned to embrace screwing up as a learning experience, and the fear of screwing up isn’t a good enough reason to not try something. So here I am on September 3rd, more than a thousand words off pace and giving it a shot anyway.
It is partially birthed in a shift in my perspective toward sitting around and waiting for things to come to you, will get you nowhere. A lot of greatness has come from people undertaking tasks they aren’t comfortable with, and I’ve come to the understanding that innovation can’t exist without risk. And with risk, you’re going to screw something up.
How is it possible to know something and be comfortable that it is going to work out if it has never been done before? And not just done before on a global scale, but on a personal scale.
It really goes in line with the whole “no stupid questions” theory. You can’t know what you don’t know, and the best way to know something, in my experience, has been to do it, screw it up, and do it again. You can read all about a topic, but you probably don’t know much about it if you don’t ever actually do it.
I’ve screwed up a lot of things in my time as a developer, but I’ve been able to learn from what I did and come up with better ways to do them the next time around. I don’t think you can even be a developer until you bring down a client website for a few minutes. It’s in the handbook somewhere. Right next to making fun of IE section
Even my foray into homebrew has been wrought with failure and success. The first batch was actually pretty good. The second? I’m hoping if I leave it for a few months it’ll magically become drinkable. But I learned a lot more about the process the second time through that’ll help my third batch.
If you’re taking the easy route and doing things you know, you’re not learning anything new, but if you’re trying something new or never done before, well, you’re going to screw it up. People forget that Steve Jobs got booted from Apple before he came back for the iPod years. I can’t imagine he considered that a great life success at the time, but I’m sure he used it as a learning experience.
Learning is just a series of screwing stuff up until you know what you’re doing.