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how to experiment

How to experiment and feel good

 

This month, things are going to be different.
How often do you say that? This year, this month, this week, this next hour.
But how? How do you make an hour or week or month different?
Do you buckle down and try harder and push more?
Does that make you more productive? Or more tired?

I'm trying something totally different.

For this month's experiment, my premise is simple: do more of what feels good, and less of what doesn't.

Basic math, right? Add in more good stuff, and my life will have more good. If I listen to what I actually like (and not just what I think I should do), I'll be happier and more sure I'm making the right decisions.
But…what's good, what's bad?

What do I mean by feeling good?
Things that feel good…
-bring me joy
-connect me to others
-feed my enthusiasm
-build momentum
-are comforting
-nourish me

My theory is simple: If I say yes to more good-feeling stuff, my work and my days will be filled with good-feeling stuff.

I have to admit that there's a loud voice of midwestern pragmatist that tells me this a terrible idea. If everyone just did what felt good, our society would break down! People would be selfish! I'll be selfish!

But wait, is that true?
My experience with this is that when I do what feels good, it's often the kind thing, the gentle thing. Being truly selfish, or being rude or self-centered actually feels awful. For example, this week my husband's great aunt died. I'll be attending the funeral this week, and while it sounds hard and unfun (funerals are never easy), I know that going and comforting my husband and his family will actually feel good. Not happy dancing, giggling good, but deeply, profoundly right. Connecting with people always feels better than disconnecting (even when it's scary).

The trick is knowing the difference between what I think will feel good (or what I think I should do) and what will actually feels good.

Another example: people often ask to work one-on-one with me. And as much as I love talking to someone and getting to know them, the one-on-one relationship is just too short to be fulfilling + productive enough for me. What feels great is working alongside someone for a few months and seeing the growth in their business. So I've learned that what will really feel great is having them in the Starship, and helping them over time, so I can celebrate the Yays and help them through the Overwhelms. This goes against every bit of advice, and every bit of good sense. But it's true for me, and time has shown that it's good for the people I'm here to help. They get more momentum, which leads to more resutls, and in the meantime we both to know what'll work in the future.

But so far, I've been guessing. I've stumbled onto what works and what doesn't.

That's where the experiment comes in, to see if this is, in fact, something true, something I can trust.

My hypothesis: Doing more of what feels good will bring more good. Period.
The Parameters: At least once a day (before I start making my to-do list), ask myself: How can I bring more of what feels good into the day? And how can I get rid of what doesn't? I hope to remember to also ask myself this before making any decisions (Will I take on this project? What will I eat for lunch? Should I focus on this or that today?)

During the experiment, I'll be sharing the things that feel great, and inviting you to do the same.

Are you experimenting this month?

If this experiment thing is new to you, read How to Experiment right here. Join in by sharing your experiment (make up your own or join me in feeling good) in the comments. And if you'd like to to check in weekly (and ask questions) during your experiment with others, check out the Starship.

How to Experiment: Review

Happy New Month!*

The beginning of a new month means its time for a new experiment! We'll start the new one tomorrow, but today let's review how the last one went (Reviewing is Step 4 of Experimenting).

My experiment

I decided to experiment with asking myself one question every day, to see how that regular, focused attention would shift both the thing, and my relationship to the thing. My daily question was: What can I do to make the Starship more awesome?

What did you learn?

Wow! I know I have this realization all the time, but it's so true! When you turn the sunlight of your attention to one thing, it flourishes and grows. After over a year of steering the Starship, I thought I was pretty settled. I know why people join, I know what they get out of it, I know what works well. Or so I thought. Asking myself the question repeatedly, and forcing myself to come up with at least oneanswer every day allowed me to dig deeper, beyond what I thought I knew. Questions led to more questions, which led to more tiny experiments.

Some examples:

One day, I twisted the question a bit: How can I make the Starship awesome-er on the inside? And that got me thinking: Why do people on the inside like it? What do they get the most out of? How can I increase the stuff I know they love? 
I started asking Captains, and then I realized we have some real success stories. People join and then reach their goals, grow their business and change in a zillion tiny ways. So that prompted me to interview those people, as an encouragement to everyone (those stories will appear in the Early Boarding Party)

I also recognized that relationships are the driving force behind everything  good. It's the reason people come to the check-ins each week, it's the reason they work hard to have something good to share in the check-in. It's the reason they open up and ask their most-scary, most-stuck questions.

So of course the follow-up is: how do I feed those relationships? And how do I help connect new ones? 
(I've got a whole list of answers that I'm working through, including more one-on-one time with me, offering taste tests to the Early Boarding List, more videos) 

Conclusion

This is the best thing in the world. Take your thing, anything you love, from a product to a service to a relationship and ask “How can I make it awesomer?” every day. Allow yourself to see beyond the obvious, to see beyond what you “know.”

Change does not mean failure. Acknowledging that there are changes that can be made is NOT the same as admitting you did it wrong before. Everything in business is iterative. And things take time.  So making changes is a sign of a sustainable business, not a sign that you messed it up before.
And if you did mess it up? Now that you recognize that and are making changes, this is good news, not bad.
That, that whole change is not failure thing, is maybe the hardest lesson for me, and I learn it a little more everyday.

This is the heart of any experiment:

Permission to get it “wrong”
Accepting there might not be a “right” way
Giving yourself space to be surprised
Embracing change as growth, not a sign of past failure

And now it's time to review your experiment:

What did you learn from this experiment?
Does that give you an idea of what else you might try?
Do you want to experiment with something similar to gather more data or switch to something totally different?

 

Share your results and review in the comments, or on the Facebook page.

 

 

*I had a very rotund 7th grade Ohio History teacher, Mr. Antonopolis, who would start every new month with that exclamation and an explanation that it was customary to greet each other this way in…some country, and I can't say it without thinking of him. 

How to experiment: Reports + New Experiments

Looks like home.

Last month, I launched an experiment (and some of you joined me!). While doing the experiment is fun in itself, the real power lies at the end, where we determine if the experiment worked the way we thought it would.

To analyze your experiment, start with the thesis. Did you prove it true? Or not? You might find that you didn't measure what you needed to measure to really learn what you wanted to learn. Or you might learn that while you started the experiment with one plan, the territory changed it into something else.

The important thing in this analyzing step is that ALL DATA IS GOOD DATA. It's not our job to judge the results, just to report in on them, explore them, and then use this experiment to make our next.
I want to really stress this: even if you didn't finish your experiment or complete it the way you thought, you still gathered data. You still got results. Whatever the results, you now know something you didn't know last month. And that is very good news.

My experiment results.

The thesis: blogging everyday would help me explore both my relationship with blogging and my connection with the community.
Results: Happiness! The blogging reminded me that what we appreciate appreciates. The more I write, the more I have to write. As for the community aspect, I was completely delighted by the explorers that joined me! I loved reading about your experiments and it definitely made me feel more connected through our shared vulnerability. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

And now for the next experiment.

Before I introduce my next experiment, take a moment to think about yours.
What did you learn from this experiment?
Does that give you an idea of what else you might try?
Do you want to experiment with something similar to gather more data or switch to something totally different?
A word of warning: it's easy to fall into the habit of just trying the same thing again and again and hoping to learn more every time. But that's why we put parameters on the experiment: to push you to come to some conclusions about one thing and move on to the next. So even if you stick in the same arena (say, blogging everyday), be sure to change your thesis and your parameters to reflect what you learned this time.

My next experiment

Now that I have proof that what I focus on flourishes, I want to turn my focused, daily attention to something else: the Starship. It's my most favorite thing to work on and for months I've been shifting my business so that I can focus on it exclusively. Sorta unexpectedly, that happened this month, and the Starship is now 98% of what I do (I cut waaay back on individual clients).

I couldn't be more thrilled. But I've also learned that when your favorite thing goes from part-time to full-time, it's easy to lose enthusiasm and get bogged down in the quotidien. To keep the Starship my favorite, and make it even more fun to be in, I'm going to do one thing every day: I'm asking myself the question “What can I do to make the Starship more awesome (inside or outside)?
Some days the answer might be to brainstorm, some days the answer might be to implement. Some days the answer might be to work on upcoming classes. But everyday will see me asking the question and working through an answer.

Thesis: Asking myself one question each morning will lead to bigger and better ideas, clearer priorities, and maintain my enthusiasm for my favorite project.
Parameters: Every day, I'll start the day with the question, and then I'll write and brainstorm an answer. The experiment ends October 1st.
Support system: I already write every morning, so this will just fit in there. I'll use my journal or 750words.com. I'll be implementing the ideas as I go through my weekly system of communicating with the Starship Captains and with the Early Boarding List. Oh! And I'll ask the current captains for their help in coming up with ideas.

(Sneak peek: I started this yesterday, on my flight home, and the answer  was: Come up with ways to make a new captain feel welcome + special. So I wrote a list of 10 things and I picked one. This month all new captains will be invited to talk to me one on one about their business and their goals. I am so excited about this! It sounds like so much fun, but I never even thought about it before!  Today the answer was: Reward people who buy the Starship in one fell swoop. So I've lowered the single-payment price to $450, for just this week*. I'll report back next week on how this question is changing other things, but for now I just had to tell you: it is so much fun and giving me ideas I never had before!)

Now how about you?

What's your experiment for this week?
Share your thesis and parameters in the comments.

 

 

*If you want to find out about the special things I'm offering new captains, be sure to sign up here. And remember, the Starship is only open for one week, so all the other ways I awesome-ize the Starship will only be for members, and not available publicly.