A big breakthrough in my life occurred when I realized something huge: that most of the innovations, processes and discoveries of men come in the form of accidental discovery.
On countless occasions I have witnessed groups of men involved in problem solving on the fly during a work project. I’ve seen first-hand that there is often a lot of what seem like stupid ideas tried out first, when all of a sudden, usually by accident,– the smart way finally becomes apparent or is stumbled upon. This is not meant as a diss on men; on the contrary, from them I learned you have to solve problems by just starting somewhere and trying something and it ends up being a process of trial and error. But that this was the process behind men’s accomplishments was my eye-opening breakthrough.
It’s not just a “guy thing” to be smart and mechanically capable and able to figure stuff out and problem-solve on the fly. It’s a “doing it” thing. You just do it, using any means and ideas you do have, many of which turn out to be inefficient or even stupid in retrospect, but everyone has to start somewhere. It usually takes a few different attempts to figure things out.
My breakthrough was triggered by watching what I perceived as “sheer stupidity” in some of the actions I’ve seen men attempt in problem solving. But it is not as easy as you might think to be the lone woman with a different vision trying to communicate with a bunch of guys focused on another idea. So I would just watch how it all played out, time and again. What I saw on multiple occasions was that genius happens after a lot of trial and error – sometimes very ignorant, comical or insurmountably stupid trial and error. And that’s not just a “girl thing” I discovered. Eureka! My self-esteem had found new ground.
This breakthrough gave me the freedom to pursue a lifetime of learning how to do things for myself, without fear or shame over things I don’t yet have full understanding of, and with resolve to plow forward and find out. It’s all trial and error; you just have to jump in. I have taken on the task of teaching myself stuff, because that’s pretty much what the guys are doing. It’s the best way to learn, though I’ve found it can be time consuming and inefficient, going that route of self-learning everything. Men have the advantage of working in groups with other men to collectively solve problems. Women could really benefit if they would start doing more of that, which I think they are starting to do, more and more.
Most of my own genius thoughts and ideas have also occurred either by mistake or somewhat randomly, but usually after I have been working on a thought or a problem for some time already. Context of knowledge is everything. Timing is everything. And so is trial and error. You have to just do it.