10,000 Mistakes

You’ve probably heard the concept that it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.  That might be the case for playing guitar, bob sledding, or being a mechanic, but as an entrepreneur you have a higher milestone to hit.  You have to make 10,000 big hairy mistakes.

Consider this.  The first few hundred or even few thousand might go quick.  You might make them all in the same business.  But then an interesting thing happens.  You get better and better and start to avoid those mistakes.  Each lesson you take away makes the next mistake you make a larger time commitment.  Soon you are spending hours or even days before making a new mistake.  The bits you learned then start to become habits.  Then those habits change how you approach other areas and you make new mistakes, resetting the gate’s you’ve gotten through.  Start over.  Sort of.

Lean Mistakes?

It is kind of like the lean methodology.  You must perform each step in order and you must disprove or prove your hypothesis at each step.  Challenge.  Open the gate.  Walk through.  Next challenge.  What did I learn and how can I do this better.  If you get to step 7 and you disprove something you might have to go back to step 3 and work your way back up.  This time it is (hopefully) quicker from the lessons you’ve been taking.

Intellectual Currency

Start thinking about the mistakes you make not as a problem but as intellectual currency which build towards building whatever it is you desire.  This currency makes you more valuable; though it is almost impossible to communicate it and might sound damn ridiculous.  “Hey Marvin I just made mistake my 9,341st mistake, I’m almost there”.

Reaching the Big 10K

But once you reach that milestone, what does it mean?  Have you achieved something?

Internally yes.  You know 10,000 things that do not work and much better ways to approach what you tried to do.  You also have a solid understanding of yourself and how you do business.  It is a huge internal milstone.

Externally maybe.  You’ve probably failed a lot and might not have  something to show for it.  Or perhaps you’ve had some home runs.

Luck & Mistakes & Success

Does luck have something to do with success?  Check out the graphic below.  As mastery increases (the # of mistakes you make) your chance of success increases.  They have time on the X axis but think about it as Chance of Success (time works but not exactly what we are talking about)

Some people nail a home run on their first try without any knowledge of anything.  Did they learn much?  No.  Did they win?  Some would say yes.  But if you can never repeat it then are you good?  Or did you get lucky?

You’ll never reach that ultimate line as there is always more to learn and improve on…but you sure do you feel like you are getting close sometimes and then WHAM.  New mistake.

Finishing Up

How far are you to your 10,000 mistakes?  Where are you in the curve?  Are you an entrepreneur for life or a one and done type?  Get out there and learn something.

Author: Adam Perkins

Startup Entrepreneur from Madison Wisconsin.