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When getting stuck is the key to solving problems

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Do you know what obsession means?

Probably not.

At least not at the level of this guy I want to talk about.

Stephen Wolfram is the creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language.

A true A-list nerd.

His obsession?

Physics and computing.

I don’t want to dive into any of that today, but rather into what an obsessive trait that I think we should all get more of when it comes to business.

In a recent podcast Stephen talks about how he had just completed a project and was reflecting on it.

All well and good.

But what if I told you that this project lasted 50 years?!

Makes sense as our nerdy little Stephen is into studying complexity.

But what astounds me is his willingness to dig deep into his work and progress – and to study what went wrong.

Because that’s what he does.

One of his habits whether it’s reviewing his progress or other people’s on big projects, is not so look at what they accomplished and the insights they gleaned.

It’s to spot the moments they got stuck.

And then, to reverse engineer why that happened, why it could happen again and how to prevent it. Or to simply understand the deeper, second-order consequences that those moments created.

Failure can tell you what to fix as much as success can.

It requires gruelling work, self reflection, humility and the willingness to face your own limitations.

But when you do it right, it’s worth it.

It’s the only way you can get deep into a subject and truly innovate.

I try my best when it comes to studying copywriting and UX, but also when working on client projects and back tracing to the root causes for why people buy or don’t.

Homework for today?

Look back at a big project you completed and ask yourself not “What did I accomplish?”, but rather “What did I do wrong and why did it happen?”

P.S. This marks the 201st issue of Conversion Alchemy Journal 🎉 If you’ve been enjoying it so far, sharing this link with 1 friend is the best way to help us spread the word. It would mean the world.

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