The key to having great ideas is to have LOTS of ideas. Dream them up, test them out, and discard the bad ideas quickly!
Almost all the new variations of jiu-jitsu techniques you dream up will die a lonely death in the graveyard of stupid ideas. Most of your brilliant new ideas will be crap. Most things you try out in life will fail…
Expect this and learn to welcome it.
Speed towards failure, because failure allows you to discard the bad idea and move on towards the next thing.
I was initially going to limit this discussion to the process of inventing new jiu-jitsu techniques, but really this concept is applicable to everything from jiu-jitsu to business to online dating…
To have breakthroughs you need to start with a large pool of ideas and find a way to evaluate them as quickly as possible in a relatively low-risk way. In the sifting and sorting process you’ll discard the crappy ideas and hopefully find a couple of brilliant gems.
The key is implementation. You actually have to try out your ideas to find out if they’re going to work. The faster this occurs the better.
In businesses this concept is sometimes called the Minimal Viable Product. This is a low risk way to test out your ideas. If people like it then great, you’ve just hit a home run! But if people don’t like it then you haven’t wasted too many resources building something that nobody wants.
The first iPhone didn’t have cut and paste functionality. Apple could have delayed shipping the phone until it was perfect, but they put the product out there to see if it could get some traction, and now it’s the most profitable product in history.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Air started out with a single airplane on a single route. This Minimal Viable Product allowed him to test a concept without betting the farm. Obviously it was a big success for him and now he has a lot more planes…
But any time you try something new it might not work. You have to be OK with that.
Richard Branson has launched close to 100 companies, some of which were absolute failures. Did he pack up and go home after a failure? Of course not. He closed down or sold off the failures, and then concentrated on the successes. Next!
How on earth does any of this apply to online dating? Exactly the same way! In this era of Tinder, Match, PlentyofFish, Lavalife,
AshleyMadison, and eHarmony you get offered a ton of choice. How do you find the best choice? Test, test, test!
I went through a big internet dating phase a few years ago. One of my basic strategies was to move the relationship offline and meet up in person as soon as possible. Anyone can look good and appear sane when they’re posting 10 year old photos and having friends proof-read all their messages. I didn’t want to invest a ton of time and energy creating a virtual relationship online only to find out that there was no chemistry in person.
So I went on a lot of first dates, and like anyone else who does that I came away with a bunch of great stories. It was often a circus freak show parade of fat girls with ‘athletic’ body types, crazy girls describing themselves as ‘no drama’, and girls desperate to get pregnant, married and settled down in someone else’s house right away. A harsh assessment perhaps, but amazing how often it was true.
(Of course there are probably women out there who think that they narrowly avoided a Hannibal Lector moment with me as well. Like the one girl who never talked to me again after I sent her this ‘more up-to-date’ photo. Clearly she had no sense of humour, by which I mean she didn’t find me funny. Oh well, NEXT.)
A first date is a relatively low risk investment. It’s a form of Minimal Viable Product. It may not tell you if you’re going to be soul mates, but you could certainly learn that something was never meant to be!
After a while I actually began to look forward to these crash and burn situations. If you’re not amusing yourself then you’re not doing your job. And a terrible date meant two things: 1) an excellent story to share with my friends, and 2) not wasting precious time on a relationship that was clearly never going to go anywhere. Amidst all this carnage I did eventually end up in quite a nice relationship for a couple of years, but it took a lot of sorting and sifting to get there.
I once talked to a girl who was abandoning online dating. She wanted to be in a relationship but the whole online things was a lot of work and in the end every guy she’d actually met with “was either conceited or an asshole.”
I asked her how many dates she’d actually gone on, and the answer was three. I almost laughed out loud. THREE??!?! Of course she wasn’t having success – in online dating you have to kiss a LOT of frogs – or at least go on dates with them – before you find your prince or princess!
Taking this back to jiu-jitsu for a second… If I come up with a new entry to the triangle choke then I can do one of three things…
- Forget about it, or…
- Analyse, think, worry about and research it for 3 months to see if it’s a good idea, or…
- Try it out on my training partner and get my answer right away.
I’m a big fan of option 3: try it out as fast as possible in a relatively safe way.
You learn SO much more from actually trying something out than sitting there and thinking about it. The learning is in the doing, not in the reading about it (and that comes from a confirmed bookworm).
(Of course you want to set yourself up for success – when you’re field testing a new technique start out by deploying it on the lightest, whitest white belt in the club and then start moving up the food chain. More on the idea of progressively training your technique in this article here).
The vast majority of great ideas I’ve ever had in jiu-jitsu were spectacular failures when I actually tried them out. Sometimes I’ve tapped out to brand new blue belts because my brilliant new technique backfired so badly. Oh well, that’s the cost of doing business… NEXT!
Success involves following tons and tons and tons of false leads, rabbit holes, and dead ends. The key is to not get stuck there. Find the easiest, fastest, safest way to test out your idea and see if it’s any good. Get to failure as fast as possible so that you can stop wasting your time with a stupid idea.
The physicist Neils Bohr said, “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.”
So go ahead: try out lots of things, make lots of mistakes, and become an expert!