It’s not unusual when learning a skill to be told to “keep doing it” to get better. But that seems so counter intuitive, doesn’t it?
As an artist, woodturner, writer, or pianist you’re driven to produce nothing but the best, not mass-produce junk. Somewhere, usually in school or by your parents, you were told to aim for perfection. Anything less than 100% or an A is not good enough.
A jazz musician in a famous quartet told me once, “If it’s not quite right, it’s wrong.”
The only problem is the journey to perfection can only be made if you resolve to try, try and try again . . . and keep screwing up until you get better.
I remember visiting a good friend whose hobby is taking ugly parts of trees and turning them into beautiful bowls and other items on a lathe in his basement. I’m no judge of these things but to my eye every one was gorgeous and I said so. He laughed and pointed to a big pile of split, marred, and busted pieces.
They told the tale of his progress. He kept trying, screwed up, and in the process perfected his craft.
It’s silly to expect a masterpiece in the beginning of any endeavor. There’s a comet tail of mediocrity in every story of perfection until quantity morphs to quality.
And so it is with writing, too.
I’ve been putting off pecking at the keyboard until I know I’ll publish something up to my imagined standards. The problem is, at the moment my “standards” seem impossible to reach. So I haven’t been writing much lately.
That’s a mistake. Nobody improves if they just hope to get good someday but don’t work at it.
Improving must be done by doing the thing itself, again and again. Equestrians only get better by riding. Violinists only become accomplished by playing.
My challenge, and perhaps yours in the things you’re working on, is to move beyond the comfort of wishing to be good at something, and instead step off into the unknown of doing the thing you want to do better – often, and again and again. For me that means writing and publishing more.
Now how about you? Are you waiting until something is just right before sharing it?
Those guys at Nike have the right idea. Just Do It.
Then do it again.