Head, meet wall

People like to say that you shouldn’t bang your head against the wall.

It’ll hurt, it won’t do you any good, it won’t help you achieve your goal.

I disagree. Sometimes, you do need to bang your head against the wall. It’s just that, while you’re doing it, you don’t realize you’re banging your head against the wall.

When you set a big goal, when you want to learn how to do something you don’t know how to do yet, or arrive at some place where you aren’t yet, you start by trying things.

For example, if you want to dress better and look more attractive while you’re going about your day, you could buy a variety of new clothes and wear each of them for a while. You’ll probably find that some of the clothes flatter you and that you feel good in them; other clothes won’t look as good on you as you had hoped they would, and they feel awkward.

This is trial and error.

You might initially think that you’d look better wearing a hat. So you try a fedora, a baseball cap, maybe a top hat—okay, don’t, a top hat isn’t the answer—or whatever hat. None of them seem to get you more smiles or looks from strangers. They’re not achieving your desired effect.

This is banging your head against the wall. You don’t know it, but you’re trying something that doesn’t work. Repeatedly trying something that doesn’t work. The thing is, you don’t know yet that it doesn’t work. You’ve got to try it for a while first.

To look better, maybe you should wear more flattering pants, rather than a hat. Or perhaps you need a different hair cut. Or less, or more, facial hair. It could be all sorts of things. As long as you’re trying out different hats, you’re banging your head against the wall. And that’s okay, because you’re learning!

Only later you realize that the hats weren’t the answer.

Banging your head against the wall is part of the process. Don’t be so afraid of it. Be willing to make mistakes. Accept that you’ll do things now that you will eventually realize were futile.

Go ahead. Bang your head against the wall—until it doesn’t feel good anymore. Then try something else.


— Peter

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