We live in a culture that encourages envy. Envy for products we don’t own, lifestyles we don’t have, happiness we believe others have. Growing up means living with the realisation that everyone is making it up as they go along. Your parents and teachers didn’t know better after all. For some that is a relief, for others a scary disappointment.

The truth is that each of our lives are unique. Each of our lives is a prototype and the mantra of prototyping is fail early and often.

The older I get, the harder I find it to overcome the fear of failure that stands in the way of change. Children, a home, responsibilities, outgoings, habit and just plain fear each all present very compelling reasons for not making changes. I envy my students’ years ahead of them and their current lack of many of these responsibilities. But they are often are paralysed by one big one: coming up with The Big Project Idea that will best prepare them for an uncertain future.

The answer is that there is no big idea to be chosen, just the process of hammering an average idea into a great one. That experience is the best preparation for the future.

Hankering after an ideal of perfection is exhausting and soul-destroying. Treat your life as a never-ending prototype. Get into the habit of failing early and often. It only becomes harder later and that’s exactly the time when you need it most of all.

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