Anything worth doing is worth doing badly | Diversify Your Self Esteem

Diversify Your Self Esteem

Synthesizing ideas from crazy adventures into philosophy, finance, engineering and psychology…

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly

A facetious twist on the famous idiom, but instead saying if the thing is worth doing a lot or well, it is worth doing a little bit, however you can manage.

Unpacking this, it is expressing that you can’t wait to be good at something to do it, because then you’ll never get good. 

I have conversations with people regularly about how they want to get in shape but they can’t go to the gym because they could never go 4 times a week and don’t know what to do.

If you set that as the first bar you want to hit, I hope you enjoy giving up, because that’ll be the only outcome. No one can get from 0 to that level of skill and determination instantly.

To expect that from yourself is not setting yourself up for success.

You start by going once, expecting to feel out of place, embarrassed, do a couple of reps on a machine after you see someone do it. Then pat yourself on your back and go home. You never even broke a sweat.

But you get to be proud of yourself because you made the effort, you are on an improving trajectory. A goal of 1% improvement is all you need to set, then when you hit it, set it again. Leverage the power of compounding, as Warren Buffett called it – “the 8th Wonder of the World”.

Be patient, it will come with time.

Never let the time it will take to achieve something stop you from starting – the time will pass either way.

“Every day 1% better”

Every day 1% better: guarantees you will improve 1.01^365 in a year. That’s almost 38x improvement.

Would that be enough? What about 2 years? After 2 years, it would be 1.01^(365*2) which is over 1400x better.

It’s about consistency, but you need to start with low expectations and celebrate the small wins.

  • If you want to get fit, strong or leaner, this applies.
  • If you want to be a world-class coder working in a successful tech company, this applies.
  • If you want to perform in an orchestra, this applies.
  • If you want to become comfortable meeting new people, this applies.

Whatever the goal is, this applies. 

The first step to being really good at something is being really bad at it.

As early as I can remember I was taught by those around me that “anything worth doing was worth doing well”.

They meant well, but what that taught me was that if something wasn’t done well it wasn’t worth doing. That’s incredibly dangerous for your ability to learn new things.

Getting bad

The first step to being really good at something is being really bad at it.

  • The first computer code I wrote didn’t even compile (now I’m writing code that is used by millions).
  • The first deadlift I did was horrific (and was done with a wooden stick, not even a bar).
  • The first article I ever wrote was torn apart by my boss (thankfully, because it was truly terrible).
  • The first pitch I made was an improvised mess where I didn’t even get to the solution I was trying to present.
  • The first stock trade I made that was my “pick” lost me 30% of my investment (I’ve since turned that around big-time now, but at the time I was just an emotional kid playing stock-trader because I thought it was a cool get-rich-quick scheme).

Yeah when you start you will be bad. That’s the joy of it.

It takes mistakes to really learn, the mistakes need to cost you something, there needs to be stakes as an incentive to learn. You need to have skin in the game. 

Childlike resilience

Kids are great at this, because they don’t feel shame from failure. They are ready to fully give themselves to each pursuit, complete mindful dedication. We lose that as we start to value our reputation and fear what people will think (what WE will think) if we fuck it up.

Every slip of your hand while drawing, every forgotten edge-case in a coding problem, every time you fall off your skateboard or lose a match of Fortnite is an opportunity. If you don’t chase being “bad” at things you rob yourself of these joys.

“You don’t play a song for the last note.” – Alan Watts. It is more about the journey than the ‘destination’ because perfection does not exist, the journey is all we have because there is no ‘destination’.

“I can’t do that, I would be terrible”.

So next time when you think you just can’t do something because you can’t do it well yet, consider if you would ever like to do it well, because then it may just be worth doing it “badly”. And loving it.

What’s something you wish you could do well?

Next Post

Previous Post

Leave a Reply

© 2021 Diversify Your Self Esteem

Theme by Anders Norén