We are all familiar with that old adage “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I’d like to disagree; anything worth doing is worth doing badly, poorly, or inexpertly.
Where people get misled is that the mantra is a message about effort; not about being great. It isn’t about “being good at everything you do.” It’s about doing something over and over until you are good at it. Doing something with great effort doesn’t necessarily mean doing it successfully or with proficiency every single time. It means giving it your all and committing to doing your best at every stage of the process. No one is perfect at something they’re doing for the first time, even if they have a natural aptitude for that thing; be it dance, art, parenting, or brain surgery. Everything takes practice, and so I would like to repeat:
Everything worth doing is worth doing badly.
So often we want to skip the messy part of growth. When we envision our success, we typically are envisioning the very end of the journey. We imagine the glory of performing to a full house at The Met, walking onstage to accept an award, or autographing the inside cover of our memoir for a fan. We don’t fantasize about the moments we fall short and really make a mess of something.
Our visions of ultimately succeeding are important and necessary for our growth. They’re a roadmap to our purpose, but only that. The process is what we need to focus on because that is where our real purpose is found.
Think about how many times you gave up before getting good at something you loved. What was something that sparked your joy that you dismissed because you decided you weren’t “good” at it?
I can’t rollerskate; I look like a fool!
Art classes aren’t for me; I’m not creative.
I’m a terrible dancer; I have no rhythm.
I can’t sing.
No matter what your “I can’t” is, I’m willing to bet it’s something you tried a handful of times—or maybe even once—and then gave up out of not feeling good enough. The worst part of it all is, you may have abandoned something that was meant to bring you great happiness; which is the only real success.
In the past few years, I’ve made great strides in the realm of public speaking. Fifteen years ago, I embarked on the task of creating classes and giving lectures. I am not exaggerating when I share that for every hour I lectured, I spent 30 hours in preparation. And if you want to know the truth, the lecturer I was 15 years ago is laughable compared to lecturer I am now. The point is, I put my all into it, and while my first efforts lacked mastery, they were genuine and impassioned. But most importantly, they set the foundation for where I am today.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that energy is never wasted. The focused effort that you put into something is going to manifest somewhere in your life. It may not appear the way we thought, but it certainly doesn’t disappear. The effort you put into your ballet dancing as a child may not have turned into you becoming the prima ballerina for the New York City Ballet, but I bet it gifted you with discipline, with a beautiful respect for your body, and probably brought you many experiences that you cherish. You may not have gone on to become the next Pablo Picasso, but your brief stint as an art major afforded you an eye toward the whimsical; helping you to become an especially brilliant creative director, interior designer, or brand strategist. Your energy is never wasted.
So, go out there and do a bad job! Do a bad job as many times as it takes to do a good job. Let yourself have the experience of learning, of messing up, and trying again. Give yourself the time and space to not be the best at something and then to watch how you grow.
The entire reason we came to this world is to transform. It is the very purpose of our lives. In change, there is great power. It’s something that has been proven true to me many times throughout my life. If you start off being the best at something, you have nowhere to go, and nowhere to grow. It won’t be interesting, at least not for very long. You won’t be challenged and, therefore, you won’t be fulfilled. Being willing to show up and do your best as many times as it takes to bring the success that you’re working towards is a key element of becoming a Change Junkie.
Begin a new journey today. Pick up something you gave up on and try again, with the willingness to do a bad job.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
What is something you gave up early on and then decided that you were just bad at it? If it still knocks on your door, give it another try! Is there something you’ve always dreamt of doing but are too afraid of being a beginner? Whatever it is, get started this week.