November 3

The Art of Iteration: How Pros Stay Ahead of Amateurs

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.” Simon Sinek, explaining the art of iteration. 

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky famously said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” In retrospect, it’s a profound statement—one that transcends the world of sports and is applicable to many areas of life.

We often don’t want to take too many shots because we believe we all have this big, beautiful idea that ignites our passion and imagination. And we spend our lives honing this “perfect” idea or opportunity...only to see it fizzle away.  

Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double-helix DNA structure, zoned on precisely this mentality when discussing the differences between amateurs and pros.

Amateurs vs pros

"It is amateurs who have one big bright, beautiful idea that they can never abandon. Professionals know that they have to produce theory after theory before they are likely to hit the jackpot." Francis Crick

As amateurs, most of us can relate.

The single-idea fixation

Our commitment to a single, all-encompassing, and dazzling idea is often the reason for our downfall because the all-or-nothing mentality, while admirable, often leads to rigidity, blind spots, and resistance to change.

As amateurs, we often tend to fixate on a single concept, and our “one-idea wonder” approach can be attributed to a few key factors.

  • Why bother? Often, we don’t take more shots because we preemptively assume failure, and this fear of failure stops us from even bothering to try.
  • We’re too comfortable: Risk aversion is closely related to our desire to stay within our comfort zones. Isn’t it so much easier to instead opt for the perceived safety of the familiar?
  • It’s more work to take more shots. Let’s be honest. Our rationalizing selves are good at convincing us, especially when faced with more work that we have “enough.”

But pros see it differently.

What do the pros do?

The journey from amateur to professional is marked by the recognition that success is seldom achieved through one unyielding, beautiful idea. Pros understand the power of diversifying their ideation process. This idea buffet mentality allows them to tap into their creative potential and adapt to changing circumstances. They see each attempt as a stepping stone toward the ultimate goal rather than a failure.

But what sets the pros apart from the amateurs most is their willingness to iterate constantly.

The power of iteration

If you’ve ever wondered how math can ever be helpful in life, look no further than the process of iteration.

In math, Iteration is the process of taking the result from one pass and feeding it back in as input into the next attempt. In life, too, this concept works splendidly.

Iteration, the act of refining, revising, and improving upon previous efforts through the cycle of trial and error, is at the heart of innovation and achievement.

Most successful Silicon Valley companies don’t spend years perfecting one good idea. Instead, they thrive on the slogan “launch early and iterate.”

The power of iteration lies in its ability to turn good ideas into exceptional ones, to learn from failure, and to adapt to an ever-changing world. Whether you're a professional, a creative, an entrepreneur, or simply someone striving for self-improvement, iteration is the vehicle that will take you to excellence.

How to turn pro?

Everything is iterating, and iterating is everything.

Take many shots. Okay, not that kind, but you know what I mean.

Inaction guarantees failure. If you don't attempt, you're already defeated. Not taking the shot ensures that you'll never score, whether it's a career move, a creative endeavor, or a personal relationship.

Don’t get bogged down by a single idea: It's crucial to recognize the downsides of fixating on one concept, as it can stifle creativity and personal growth. When we become too committed to one concept, we often close ourselves off to exploring other innovative and potentially better ideas.

And most importantly, remember this: There are fewer heartbreaking phrases in the English language than sentences that begin with “If only I had.” Don’t put yourself in a position that will cause you to regret later.  Because. Carpe Diem.

I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t done. Lucille Ball



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