Trials and Errors

Written by Scott Schimmel

I don’t wish I had a nickel for everytime a well-meaning adult asked a student, “So what are you going to do after school?” I would happily take even a small royalty. It’s the most common conversation starter, the standard ice breaker, the norm for every Thanksgiving dinner conversation and grocery store run-in. It’s THE question to end all questions (or to end all conversations, actually). 

I’ve done it myself. Working with high school and college students for the past 12 years, I know I shouldn’t ask it, but I can’t help myself. I kind of like watching students squirm and fumble for their stock responses. I know- I’m messed up!

I remember the first person who strongly criticized our intent in creating YouSchool. A former colleague gave me his (unsolicited) opinion that people CAN'T find themselves and discover what their “thing” is until well into their 30’s. Before then, he said, you’re just too young to really understand yourself. Until then you're just experimenting.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say in response. He had a great point. I agree at some level- it is naive to think that we can help an entire generation accelerate their self-discovery. But in a flash of clarity, I asked him, “So, when did you discover your ‘thing’?” Can you guess what his answer was? (yep-- when he was in his mid-30’s)

People do learn as they go. Everyone needs to start something. You do have to pick something. Do something. Find a job. Get a paycheck. You really do have to try something to know if you like it, are passionate about it, if it makes you come alive or deadens your soul. 

But at YouSchool we’re absolutely convinced that everyone deserves the opportunity to speed up their trials and their learning. Everyone needs focused time to sit and reflect on the right questions, in a safe and trusting environment to get feedback from the right people. 

Here are some must-do’s in the life of rapid trial-and-error:

-- Actively and intentionally take deliberate time to reflect and grow in self-awareness 

-- Get curious about your reactions, interactions, and experiences. Always ask 'why?'

-- Make it a normal part of your life to wonder aloud: “What does that say about me?”

-- Capture your thoughts on paper at the end of every day. What parts of the day did you really enjoy? Hate?

-- Find two or three trusted advisors to give you feedback and help you see things about yourself that you can’t see yet


Life is a journey. But don’t let it pass you by, because you WILL wake up one day and realize that the same old question still causes you deep anxiety. But at some point that anxiety will change to regret. Get started!