“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly the first time.” – G.K. Chesterton
I don’t know if you relate to this, but for the longest time I had never failed in life. At least not in any big or noticeable ways. Luckily, I was pretty smart so there were many things I could do well enough to be considered a success. And, anything that I thought I might really stink at, I just avoided. OK, so I’ve been an occasional athlete throughout my life (played sports, ran), and did that pretty badly. But in my work especially, I would do extensive research, think of all of the possible outcomes and prepare for them, and essentially not take action if it looked as if it might not work out. I appeared to have a great track record because of this, but how paralyzing it could be to operate this way!
I have since learned to just be in action and do it badly, if needed, the first time. This shift has been extremely freeing! The other interesting thing is that it often doesn’t turn out badly! My fear of doing it wrong was all that was keeping me stuck.
As I started my business, I kept the G.K. Chesterton quote as a mantra on the whiteboard above my desk. It took major risk for me to step out on my own and release the security and status of a “real job,” and especially to put my view onto paper (as in right here) where it could be seen and known, maybe even criticized. I am engineer – we cling to numbers and facts. Yet nothing I have stated here is necessarily true. It can all be disputed and debated. (Of course, if you are itching to dispute this, that probably has a lot more to do with you than it does with me…)
I have also learned that indecision, doubt and fear are a product of inaction. And inaction occurs when we spend too much time and energy on trying to do it “right.” This is especially true when doing it “right” is subjective. If we spend too much time fixated on doing it right, indecision becomes a habit, which can be fairly painful to break. But action leads to feedback, positive or negative, and without action you stay stuck.
When I first began playing with the idea of just setting out to it badly in order to take action, I felt tightness in my chest, my breathing was a bit strained – I was physically, mentally, and emotionally uncomfortable. I was so accustomed to having everything plotted out in my mind, knowing exactly what to expect and how it would go, that it literally panicked me to do it differently. But I have heard it said that excitement and anxiety are actually the same emotion, with the same physical sensations, and as I practiced, I began to notice that it was exciting, even exhilarating, to take action with no net. I felt more alive than I ever had!
What would be different in your life THIS WEEK if you committed to doing it badly the first time?