Everything that Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla accomplished was a result of trial and error.

They made bold guesses and then they would weed out the things that didn’t work. Edison discovered a thousand ways that didn’t work, before inventing the light bulb. Tesla failed several times before inventing AC current, without which, electricity in our homes is not possible.

Yet, in school, we are discouraged to do this.

The Problem

Imagine you’re in high school. Your teacher teaches you a chapter, stands up in class, and explains everything written in the textbook. Your job is to listen to them and pay attention. You had homework too, you had to finish chapter 3 and come prepared for the test.

Now you’re sitting in an exam hall, writing down your answers. You answered some questions, and you left some other questions untouched because you didn’t know their answers.

You’re scared that you might get wrong answers and so didn’t even try to answer them.

You’ve been taught this mindset since you were a child. You aren’t given many responsibilities, as you’re “just a child” and you might break things.

Now you’re scared to try different things. You’re looking for “safer” ways. You don’t want to experiment and want to get to the right solution as soon as possible.

This problem from childhood will stay with you into adulthood. You won’t be ready to try a completely different approach to a problem. You won’t be ready to try out new campaigns that are full of uncertainty. You want success 10 out of 10 times. So you’re stressing out finding that perfect solution, which doesn’t exist.

The Solution

Have an active mindset, rather than a passive one.

Understand that no one’s coming to spoon-feed you everything and you have to figure things out on your own. You have to take responsibility.

Take responsibility for your education, your career, and your life.

You get to decide what direction your life goes, what you do, and how you do them.

You’re the one to decide what subjects you want to study, and how you want to study them. What career path excites you the most, what hobbies and interests you have — everything about your life is in your hands.

I think we all should design our lives and walk on our own path, rather than following someone’s else’s lives. We all should create an education system and a career for ourselves. And I talk about how to do that below.

Build Something

Experiment and use your time to start something.

Live at home and spend as little money as possible.

Start something, build something. Build your skills and create something tangible.

If you don’t know what to do, make a list of things that excite you and that you’re interested in. Then build something around that.

Interested in football? Create an Instagram page on Football. You’ll learn things like content creation, content management, and social media management along with working in a field you love!

Likewise, think of something you’re interested in and build something around that. Experiment and figure out what’s working and what’s not.

Once you find something that’s working and you enjoy doing it, double down on that thing and pour all your energy into doing it!

You can start a blog and write about things that excite you. You can start a YouTube channel, a podcast, an Instagram page, a GitHub account, anything that suits you best.

Think in Terms of ‘Projects’

Work on projects. These projects can be anything, writing a blog post every day for 30 days, posting a social media post every day for 30/60/90 days, designing graphics, writing an ebook, just anything!

Like, I worked on a project. I wrote a handbook on Productivity.

I was learning about productivity and work habits and being efficient at work. I watched YouTube videos, read articles, tried out what I read, and curated the learnings to my workflow.

I wanted to combine my learnings and have all of them in one place. So I co-authored a handbook on productivity with my friend Kovid. That project took us 30 days to write, edit, publish and sell the first copy. I’m glad I took that project and now I have a published ebook, along with documentation of the entire process.

I’m more excited than ever to work on projects now. I recommend this to everyone who’s passionate about building something but have no idea how.

Build your network

You can approach this two ways:

  1. When you’re starting out, try a bunch of stuff.
    You can approach those ahead of you and ask for their help. The people who’ve already done what you’re doing. Those are the ones you need to look for and approach.
    While these people are ready to help passionate individuals, make it worth their time by giving them back something in return. Try to find a way to help them!
  2. When you’re already into experimenting and you have a portfolio — a page of your works!
    Now you can show someone that you are a person who actually does things and not just talks about them. So chances are, the people you’re reaching out to will respond back to you.

When reaching out to people, don’t just go in looking for help, but provide value to them as well.

Find out the pain point they are facing and fix it for them. Make their task easy.

Like, Amr started out in Product Design and he wanted to get help from AJ&Smart. He found out that the podcast of AJ&Smart is missing the “description”, or the text below the podcasts. Now that’s something the AJ&Smart team could’ve done but they didn’t do it. Amr figured out it might be a pain for them and decided to write it without anything in return. And indeed he got something in return, he got noticed! And now he works at AJ&Smart!

Naval Ravikant said, “No failure means no learning and no progress, and ultimately, no success.”

We learn best when we’re not stressed about winning, but our motive is to achieve success or fail fast and cheap.

We need to create an environment for ourselves, an environment where we can try out different things, learn, figure out what’s best for us and grow!

We need to create an environment where we learn the most, where we share our work, share what we’re learning and build a network of similar people!

“Trial and error” is one of the best ways to learn, because no matter if you win or you fail, you will learn something valuable either way.