Breaking Out Of The Wash, Rinse, Repeat Cycle

Wash Rinse Repeat

There’s a balance somewhere in between what works and what’s never been tried yet that always yields the best results. No matter what you’re doing.

On the one hand, success that’s repeatable is your best friend. On the other hand, someone else will always try something completely different and innovative that rockets past your process for success. And makes it not so amazing any more.

So wash, rinse, repeat is good. It’s just not the only way to approach everything you’re doing. There are three basic ways to work the things that work:

1. Wash, Rinse, Repeat

If it works, do it again! Over and over, so you can keep reaping the rewards. Easy enough. In fact, it’s the easiest way to create success. It’s formula. It’s autopilot. It’s a great way to not rock the boat when you’ve found a great way to do something.

But over time, the “washer-dryer” you’re using will wear out. And there’s always a new idea on how to do the same thing better. Faster. Cheaper.

The key to using wash, rinse, repeat effectively is to use it for a limited time.

2. Wash, Rinse, And Refine

When you start to build an awareness about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what kind of results you get, you can start to refine the way you do it. This is probably the biggest and most widely used philosophy to keep success rolling along nicely.

It’s about incremental change. It’s about taking something that works and making it work a little better.

The beauty of wash, rinse, and refine is that if it doesn’t work, it’s not a huge loss. You can simply roll back to how you used to do things and make another change in a different direction.

It’s also scalable. Large companies practice wash, rinse, and refine and so do top athletes. Pretty much anybody who’s at the top of their game practices this to take success and move it forward steadily.

3. Break Out To Break Through

Every once in a while, somebody comes out of seemingly nowhere and suddenly they’re at the front of the pack. And this doesn’t happen through the process of wash, rinse … anything.

It happens by breaking the mold for what works. This is innovation. Imagination. It’s also speculation.

Breaking out and trying something completely new and different carries a certain risk. It’s not proven, so it might not work. Sometimes, not often but sometimes, breakthrough innovation yields the exact same measure of success as the old tried and true method of doing something.

But usually, if it works, the payoff is huge. The reason is … you’re first. You’ve taken the whole game to a new level and because what you’re doing is new, it’s newsworthy. Break out ideas put the spotlight on you and that light draws everyone towards it. Innovation is magnetic.

Practice A Little Of Each

Take some of your wash, rinse, repeat ideas and start refining them. Some stuff works great just the way it is, so leave some things as they are and focus on taking some of what you’re doing forward a notch.

And then make a commitment to push the envelope regularly. Take a certain amount of capital, a certain amount of time, energy, progress, and stability. And take a risk.

And then … wash, rinse, repeat.

9 thoughts on “Breaking Out Of The Wash, Rinse, Repeat Cycle”

  1. The “break out to break through” part makes me think of Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, cost him $200 to hire someone through elance and bam! Digg is born, success, money, fame, rock’n’roll, yeah baby yeah!… ok, let’s stick with “success” 🙂

    success that’s repeatable is your best friend” – This is also very true, although too many people think it’s easy, to be able to repeat your past successes you kinda need to be successful at something first. I like the “Wash, Rinse, And Refine”, and I keep writing down my million dollars ideas so I can break through eventually hehe

  2. Hey Jon,

    Wash, rinse, and refine works very well. Most of us do a lot of that … maybe at different paces … that’s a big factor too. It’s how you take a little tiny bit of success and refine it into bigger and bigger successes.

    You gotta take a couple of those million dollar ideas off the paper and just run with them to break out 🙂

  3. I liked what you are saying. So many of us get stuck in thsi cysle and never get out of it. When I look over my shoulder probably thats how I have also been approaching things. Your topic has made me rethink over my approach to things. I liked it as its very thought provoking and I do need to interpret in my context.

  4. Terrific laundry analogy! If it works, then do it again and again. Refining, as you mentioned, is important too — there is always room for improvement and if you don’t improve, your competitors are certain to do so.

  5. I read this post this morning, but wanted to think about it a little before commenting. I think I tend to be in that first category most of the time. If something seems to be working, I run with it. Occasionally I move in to the “refine” mode, but generally speaking, I just repeat what I’ve been doing as long as I’m getting results that I can live with. I could probably do a lot better at most things if I would constantly refine each step, looking for details that could make a difference. That’s sort of what I’ve been doing with my blog for a few weeks.

    I’m sure we all wish we could break out and create a “new mold”, so to speak. Anyway, another great post Shane.

  6. Manisha,

    Thanks! It’s always a great compliment to know I helped somebody see their own situation from a different angle. And you’re exactly right … you’re the one who has to apply to your context. That’s a great way to look at any advice. I think you’ll do just fine.


    Nice summary. But don’t forget … you gotta practice a little breaking-out too. A complete departure from the status quo is the core inside every revolutionary idea. And revolutionary ideas cause revolutions. Sometimes, very profitable revolutions.

  7. Anthony,

    I’d say you’re doing a lot more refining these days than you might think. the new WordPress themes you’re creating are adding to and refining the content on your blog. And of course, the themes themselves keep getting better … this is why I commented that people are going to be really interested in the latest one you’re sporting. It’s very slick and I think it’s your best so far.

    Your Easy-access desktop was a simple yet brilliant idea. That’s break-out thinking.

    It probably won’t revolutionize computing, but it’s the “mindset” that’s important. Keep thinking out of the box like that as well as working on refining the things that are working for you right now.

    … that way, you’re making steady progress no matter what, and if one of your break-out ideas clicks, it’s icing on the cake!

  8. I liked this wash, rinse repeat cycle the way you expressed it. Its so important and yet overlooked often. As they say “even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you keep sitting there.”

    Good post. Take care and cheers

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