Afraid to do it?


“If something is really important, it’s worth doing it poorly at first.” 

I sometimes tell people that quote above. The common response is, “What do you mean?” And I ask them a simple question, “How good were you at walking when you were 6 months old?” Their response, “I was terrible, I fell and stumbled around.” And I would reply, “And yet I see you did a great job of walking in to our meeting just now.” It would take a few moments, but most would get it. Gaining competence takes time and effort and patience, and it’s OK while learning to mess up time and time again.


The need to be perfect on first try can keep us from becoming great.

A variation on my saying comes from G.K. Chesterton — ‘If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.’ The basic problem with wanting to do it perfectly the first time is that’s not the way it goes. It’s not the way we learn things and gain mastery. The sad part is so many people fail to even start something because of this fear of failure, of looking stupid, being incompetent.


Why is it important to jump in and make stupid mistakes? That’s how you grow and develop. That’s how organizations create cultures of innovation by rewarding failures and attempts and learning from them. A lot of people tell me I have dumb ideas, many of them are. Some of them turn out pretty good.