Ana Cristina Leonardos is a sociologist, author and co-founder of Festina Lente Platform. In 2019, she launched a new online platform and took on the mantra “fail fast and fail forward” as she tested her first prototype. She focused on finding joy through experimenting with new ideas and projects, getting fast feedback and then rapidly reviewing and adapting. Since participating in the DYLFW Virtual Workshop in 2020, she has become a more confident and creative entrepreneur dedicated to helping people be better prepared to face the challenges in a world of constant change.
“Be the best at what you do!” I used to hear at home as a young adult starting college.
It turns out this sentiment put an amazing amount of pressure on me to meet high expectations and also promoted anxiety and frustration as I grew older. I could not settle for an average version of myself. I had to be perfect and excel. As a result, any failure was experienced by me as a devastating tragedy. In my own eyes, I was never good enough, let alone the best in anything.
It is now easy to understand my enthusiasm as I read the book Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I loved their method of life design with an emphasis on core values, happiness and fearless experimentation. I immediately adopted the mantra “fail fast and fail forward”. This was 2019, and I was just launching a new platform online. I was so worried that I was not totally ready and I thought the content of the platform should be much more thought out and complete. But I moved forward living my mantra and framing this launch as a first prototype. Design is all about building your way forward. As you learn, you iterate into another version.
As soon as I spotted the call for the workshop DYL for Women to be held in New York, I started making plans to attend. However, as the pandemic restrictions hit, an online version of the event was offered, enabling me to participate in the September 2020 one-month virtual workshop from my home, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was an amazing experience to be in Zoom workshops with dozens of women of all ages and nationalities. During Zoom breakout sessions, I was able to learn more about some of the women, hear their life stories and share in their quest for happier, more meaningful and fulfilling lives. The concept of radical collaboration – co-creating with people who have different life experiences and expertise – was alive and working to help us all design lives aligned with our work and life goals and purpose.
The workshop was precisely what I needed to unlock myself and build confidence to experiment with new ideas and projects. The concept of prototyping, testing and adjusting – like in the best designs – so wonderfully applies to the building of any sound and solid activity in life. By the end of the workshop not only did I feel validated in my ideas for the online platform I was building, but I had also designed two alternative Odyssey Plans that would help me decide when and if it’s time to change course.
At the age of 61, I am feeling much more at ease with trying out ideas and learning from them as I move along. I can reframe failure and say goodbye – for good – to my perfectionist syndrome.
Ana Cristina Leonardos
Co-founder of the Platform Festina Lente 50