Why Being Wrong Never Felt So Right

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This is a short, personal story of remedial predictive powers.

Two weekends ago in NYC, Antonio Neves and I conducted the first ever 1-Day Ignition Lab (slow clap…Hey thanks for that! You shouldn’t have) to help 20 people jumpstart their individual hustles, together.

You can see by the SEVENTEEN active google docs we’ve had in 2013 that we’ve put a lot of time into rolling out both the international event and this new 1-day event.

The Hunch

So when the question of “How many people should we invite?” percolated, we figured that we’d be pretty spot on with our assumptions.

We dipped a bucket into our knowledge well and came up with: 20 people. Yeah, 20 people. That’s the number. We had it all planned out. A 7-hour day. 4 groups of 5, breakouts, break time, alone time, feedback, teaching, etc. Antonio and I would roam between groups during the breakout/feedback sessions. It would be a thing of beauty!

15 people signed up (Cool, 3 groups of 5), but within 24 hours of the workshop, 6 people had to cancel for whatever reason – real or made up.

So at showtime, we had 9 people coming. We were kind of disappointed but we knew we could still have 2 groups and that everyone would benefit from the experience no matter what.

The Realization

20 people? Boy, we couldn’t have been more wrong if we had asked the Captain of the Costa Concordia, “Will she fit?” It turns out that with the way we had drawn up our day, 10 people was the exact amount of people that would make it a success.

How is that? How could we overshoot that sweet spot by 100%? How is it that the dip into our knowledge well served us no better than a blind pull out of a magician’s hat? After all, we’ve taught countless classes and workshops, and have spoken at numerous universities and trade events. Facilitating is what we do best. We should know better!

Were we clouded by money? (More people = more profit) Perhaps. But when we looked back at our planning, that wasn’t really it.

What it was is that we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

The Unpredictable

We underestimated…life and our own capabilities.

People show up late.
People have smaller bladders than others.
Intros and presentations go longer than we anticipated.
Each breakout group needs a facilitator.
People have flares of clarity and progress right at the last seconds of timed sessions, making it criminal to stop them there. 
Fantastic organic questions sparked side conversations that were wholly needed.

So we dove deeper, and quickly our scheduled day saw our savored minutes go tumbling off a cliff. But it was ok because our day was still aligned with the greater purpose of what we were doing. 

The Purpose

We were not trying to emulate a Swiss train station, we were trying to create supported chain reactions for people working on their individual hustle.

We did that by testing an assumption (20 people), and seeing what would happen. What happened was that our gains from only having 9 people there smothered the “losses” of guessing 20 people incorrectly. The experience of the participants, the takeaways they corralled, and the insights Antonio and I captured were all greater than we could have hoped for.

It wasn’t about 9 people or 20 people, anyway. The grand takeaway was the reconfirmation of this hypothesis: Sometimes it just feels good to have someone else give a shit about your project for once.

There are no failures in testing. Scientists don’t fail at experiments, they simply confirm what they suspected or they learn what’s actually possible.

And now we’re bringing the finely tuned, one-day, co-solving lab to Los Angeles on Oct 5th. (And yes, there are only 10 spots available, not 20.)

What have you held back from testing for fear of being wrong? How can I help you move past that thinking? Enter your thoughts in the comments below.