Bold and Persistent Experimentation: A Key Tool for Progress

I just finished reading Think Again by Adam Grant. It’s a book about rethinking, both at individual and group levels.

Here I’d like to discuss one part of the book. It’s about the importance of experimentation. Here is an excerpt:

It was 1932, and the governor of New York was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He delivered his “try something” message as the country was reeling from the Great Depression… In the most memorable line from the speech, FDR argued that “the country demands bold, persistent experimentation.” That principle became a touchstone of his leadership… Bold, persistent experimentation might be our best tool for rethinking.

I completely agree. If you want to reach your full potential, you should incorporate bold, persistent experimentation into your life. 

There are three words there: bold, persistent, and experimentation. I believe we can learn something just from these three words. Let’s dig into them, starting with the last word.

1. Experimentation

Do you want to move to the next level in your life? If you do, then you need to try new things. Why? Because doing the same things will by definition give you the same results.

With an experiment mindset, you should do your homework, make a hypothesis about what might work, and test it in the real world. Put another way, you need to make bets. This is something that great people do.

2. Bold

Your experiment shouldn’t just be any experiment; it should be bold. That means leaving your comfort zone and venturing out to the unknown. That might also mean going against conventional wisdom.

Yes, this is easier said than done, but with the right mindset, you can do it. Based on my experience, using the regret-minimization framework and seeing the journey as an adventure are helpful.

3. Persistent

There will be setbacks along the way. After all, an experiment by definition includes risks (otherwise, it wouldn’t be called an experiment). You need to keep moving forward despite the setbacks. You need to be persistent.

Be careful, though: being persistent doesn’t mean being stubborn. There is a big difference between them. Being stubborn means insisting on a certain way to reach your destination. Being persistent, on the other hand, means being flexible on how to get there.

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If you want to reach your full potential, I believe that bold and persistent experimentation is the way to go.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 Comments

  1. I thank you Donald for this piece of insight. Like Adam Grant observed and put it – am seeing in my mid adult life that to get to ones’ desired goal persistence and flexibility completes the picture.

    I read in one of Mr Anthony Robbin’s book – Awaken the Giant Within that being flexible in approach as ‘we’ persist in our desire to accomplish any goal; it is power and real power at play. Mr Anthony Robbins loves to call it the ”emotions of power” or emotional gardens of greatness!

    Link >> https://sourcesofinsight.com/10-emotions-of-power/

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