I wish I could remember where I first heard this.
I was raised with the values that ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well.’ I’m grateful for that. Still, I increasingly think the opposite is just as true.
It’s a gentle reminder that we need to walk before we can run. Particularly for all of us who take pride in doing our best.
The deeper we get into our lives and the more specialised our skills become – from being a skilled baker, to a spreadsheet whiz, to someone who can always find the right words to comfort a troubled friend – the more we take for granted being good at things.
But those honed and polished grooves can turn into ruts.
It’s almost impossible to do something well when doing it for the first time – and this becomes even more true the further we stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
It’s okay to do things badly, to trip up, to stumble, to dawdle, to spill, to daydream, to make a mistake. In fact, it’s part of the process. Particularly if we are reaching for rich lives full of discovery and experimentation.
If we can’t tolerate doing things badly, how will we learn? Doing something badly is the first step on the path that culminates in expertise.
But let us also remember, not everything is worth doing well. We have finite energy and time. Do the socks have to be perfectly folded? Does the email have to be perfectly worded? Does the child need to be perfectly clean? Sometimes, ‘done’ is enough.
And if the constant pursuit of ‘excellence’ keeps you from taking pleasure in your hobbies, your work, or your life, how much is that excellence actually serving you?
It might be time to let things slip a little now and then.
So today, celebrate the value of doing something badly. Have a laugh, give a shrug, and let the fruits of your labour exist unapologetically in all their imperfect glory.