THE STRATEGY OF PERSEVERANCE
Make mistakes and take risks
Perseverance is one of the most important strategies when it comes to turning a problem into a new possibility. Keep in mind that Omdenken is not a clearly defined, linear process. A blend of creativity and perseverance is absolutely essential. As the famous inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I’ve never failed at anything, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”. Edison’s statement perfectly hints at the core essence of The Strategy of Perseverance: if the result of an experiment is that a particular idea doesn’t work, then the experiment is a success. The key is to try stuff, make mistakes, take risks, try more stuff, assess what works, drop what doesn’t work, and then try more stuff. In order to get the most out of The Strategy of Perseverance, there are three conditions that need to be present:
- First, you’ll need to have a persistent problem but also a gut feeling that the problem is indeed solvable or Omdenkable.
- Second, you mustn’t have the slightest idea how you’ll Omdenk the problem. You’ve already tried all logical and reasonable ways, but they haven’t worked.
- Third, you have to be entirely convinced that the problem won’t solve itself. You know you have to do something. You have no idea what exactly, but you know you’ll have to make a move.
The Relationship Crisis
We all know the feeling of being in a relationship that isn’t going well. You fight all the time, or the whole thing has become predictable and boring. Sex has gotten routine, non-existent, or too intense. In short, things are bad. You’ve already tried all the logical stuff that’s meant to help: couples therapy, talking it out, thinking about things. None of it has worked. Some kind of spontaneous change isn’t going to help either. Now what?
Here’s where you’ll have to try stuff. Experiment. Do something, just like Thomas Edison did. Remember, you won’t have any idea what effect your actions will have, but you do it anyway. It’s a gamble, a risk. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as something happens: live separately for a while, go on vacation, have an affair, try celibacy, move back in with your parents, whatever. Just make sure it’s an abrupt change. After that, assess what happened and then start the trial and error process. Is the change not working? Stop doing it. After a while you may come to find that the relationship gets the boost it needed. Great! You don’t need to know why because that isn’t important. The bottom line is that a new possibility has been created.
The Company Crisis
Here’s an example from the world of business: a company has slowly but surely slipped into the red.
In a situation like that, the tendency is to analyze why things aren’t going well, cut costs, work harder. Most likely however, these things won’t help. They’ll only delay the inevitable: mass firings, debt, bankruptcy.
Instead of the oh-so typical cuts, the company should invest in a series of minor experiments. They should try new things, without knowing for sure if the new things will help.
Stuff that fails gets dropped. Stuff that works gets done more.
Whatever the result, there is one simple truth: the more they try, the more possibilities arise.
The most extraordinary facet of this strategy is that you try stuff without knowing why. What’s the danger? The danger is that things can fail, which is scary for many people. We hate to make mistakes. From the time we are small children, we’re raised to believe in the dichotomy of good and bad. We believe our teachers, and buy into the theory that ‘knowing’ means we’re smart, and ‘not-knowing’ means we’re dumb. But it’s a trap. Regardless of what we’ve been taught, The Strategy of Perseverance requires us to try stuff that might go wrong. As Woody Allen said, “if you don’t fail every once in a while, you’re not doing anything innovative.” To get where you want to be, you’ll want to keep looking, keep experimenting, keep trying. This strategy is all about falling down and getting up again.