When do you want to get started? If the answer is 10 mistakes away, the sooner you start the faster you will get through the mistakes and on to finding the answer. Too often you delay the start, because you are only thinking about the pain of the mistakes you are about to make. Sometimes you can’t find the answer until you have made the mistakes.
10 Mistake Rule
Throughout my career I have been in charge of software development teams. These were incredibly talented people with extreme levels of focus and eye for the details.
Several times a week, a software developer / engineer would stand at my door and tell me “X” can’t be done. In the end it always got done, in and effort to reduce the amount of time the talent needed to tell me what couldn’t be done, I started asking them to do something.
Go back to your desk and make 10 mistakes. Take the problem or problems you are trying to solve and make 10 mistakes. Document the mistakes so we can see where each solution failed, and together we can decide what to do about the problem. No one ever got past mistake 3, or maybe they just stopped coming to my office with the problem.
Sometimes we just want someone to hear how brutal our work can be.
Sometimes we just want someone to tell us we can do it and that it will be OK.
Sometime we are too focused on the minutia to see the solution.
This activity also works with kids and homework. I was not a good student, but it turns out later on in life I did grow into a pretty good problem solver. When my kids would come to me with questions about homework, I told them to do the same thing.
Go make mistakes and show me how each one gave you the wrong answer. Together we can decide what to do about the problem.
In both cases, engineers and kids, they are both smarter than I am and the work they do is work I couldn’t do, my job was to help them see that they could do it.