Why “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well” could be bad advice

Whatever is worth doing is simply worth doing, at least the first time. It’s inhibiting (maybe even damaging) to think of doing anything well if you’ve never done it before. Put another way, the quickest way to stop most of us from acting on our ideas is to think of making them epic the first time.

And you know what? You don’t even need to be perfect the second, third or fourth time. Instead, you should focus on improving on the last time out, the last product, the last anything.

Excellence is a good thing but aiming for perfection could stifle or impede your progress. You just need to put in your very best effort right now. The truth is you’d always have the time to revise and refine your creation in the future.

If you have an idea, prepare for it to launch out as soon as you can. Strike while the iron of passion is hot or you stand the risk of losing steam, sweeping your goal or idea under all other piling stuff demanding your attention and resources.

I also believe the ideas that come to you do so because you have been on the path of preparation, directly or indirectly in the first place. In other words, you had been preparing for that idea even unconsciously, unknowingly. Or again the idea occurs to you because you had been preparing for it!

A quick inventory of your skills and experiences might convince you: do you find links between your experiences and this idea? If your answer is “yes”, you have enough evidence to move forward.

Now I don’t discard the place of (further) preparation in getting ready to plan and execute your idea. In fact, this type of preparation should be aimed at doing, and not just to acquire know-how. We often use this as an excuse because we are afraid. We don’t want to mess up.

Did David go back to the wilderness to practice more slinging when the prompt to face Goliath came to him? No, he acted on it straight away. He took a quick inventory of his experiences and went, no, ran forward toward his mission. But did he prepare in any way before embracing the mission? Yes, he stopped at the stream, took up five stones, probably double-checked his sling for durability, swung it around a few times, and verified it ready for the objective.

But isn’t the risk of failure a real thing? Yes, so mitigate that. Start small, you can start with a pilot. Test your strength or skills or idea on a small scale if you must. In fact, the preparation you need is in real-time, on the job. You enroll in your own personalized learning and development course by engaging in the mission firsthand. You learn by doing, here is project-based learning at its peak.

“Don’t feel qualified? Nobody does. You can only be qualified to do that which you have already accomplished or trained for. Anything new is accomplished by unqualified people.”

~James Clear

So what if your results aren’t quite like David’s? Okay, for those of us whose ventures are not life-threatening the worst that could happen: loss of money or reputation. You reduce the risk of capital loss by testing and starting small; you reduce reputational damage by continuous iteration and not giving up. You can only improve what you’ve already done. You get to try again and improve so you go from first doing things to doing things well.

This whole writeup came after reading Mark Ford’s article (it’s a wonderful read) so I will close with this from him:

If You Have a Personal Goal… 
 
If you want to become something like a filmmaker or a writer or a painter, you should begin filming or writing or painting the moment you feel Ready. You don’t want to wait until you know a lot about how to film or write or paint. Because if you do, chances are you will never be what you want to be.
 
Do this now. Make a list of everything you have ever wanted to do or become. Arrange that list according to what is most important to you. Narrow your choices to three. Then pick one of the three.
 
Promise yourself that that goal, and only that goal, will be your top priority for the next 365 days. Acknowledge that everything else will be secondary. 
 
Then make an outline of exactly what you have to do to become what you want to become. Don’t worry about being good at it. Don’t worry about being recognized. Do it because you have always wanted to do it… and because time is running out.

~Mark Ford
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