afraid to fail

Noted primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, received her Ph.D. in 1965 but began living among and reporting on chimpanzee behavior even before stepping on a college campus. In 1957, she met anthropologist Dr. Lewis Leakey after accepting an invitation to visit Africa. At the time, she had completed secretarial school but had no formal training in anthropology. When Goodall began enlightening the scientific world, she wasn’t a researcher. She hadn’t earned a Ph.D. and wasn’t even formally trained. She changed the world without a wall filled with credentials or decades of research experience. If she could accomplish that, what’s holding you back from launching your big idea?

Goodall’s discoveries were ground-breaking. When scientists believed that only humans altered devices for special purposes, she discovered that chimpanzees created and used tools. They would strip long blades of grass to pull termites from their mounds. She was the first to note that the primates were carnivores that hunted monkeys and piglets. She discovered they taught parenting skills to new mothers when many believed the skills were innate. These developments were not hindered by her inexperience but fostered by it. She had no preconceptions about chimpanzee behavior and was able to observe without expectations or biases.

There is no substitute for education but if you’re the first to create a business or live for months among chimpanzees, formal education and experience can be misleading. It reinforces previously-held ideas. It teaches convention rather than innovation by showing how others solved problems in the past. As valuable as education is, it also constructs our expectations before we experience the event. All too often, it obstructs us from seeing something new because we look for something old.

Why haven’t you started a business? Do you need another degree? A first one? Validation from respected friends? Does someone else need to blaze the trail before you follow comfortably behind? There are no substitutes for education and experience but if no one has been there before, no one can fully prepare you for what to expect. At some point, you need to stop preparing, trust that you’ll adapt to the circumstances that arise, and start doing. Get to it Entreverted. Get to it.