The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. – Robert Cushing
Having to start working when you don’t feel completely ready may not sound scary to you, but it did to me. Whatever it is that we are endeavoring to do, many people, like me, will often be tempted to stand back shivering, thinking that we are not ready, that we are not good enough, that we need to know more or prepare more.
The first part of the quote talks about doing things worth doing. I love that. That to me is the easy part. I did volunteering for years, and now I do what I can to add value to companies through training in leadership and personal development. I really enjoy the work as well as the effort that is involved as well. But the part that really gets to me is the last part because I don’t like to do things when I feel I am not ready, or not good enough.
I actually used to think this was one of my strengths, that I always wanted everything I did to be so good, so perfect. I would spend hours or days perfecting the color scheme on a website, or spend days and sometimes weeks going over the wording on a speech or presentation. I was thinking about this the other day, reflecting a bit. That is when I realized that this attitude was not at all as good as I had thought it was. The reason that I was trying to get it so “just right” was not purely because I was motivated to make sure website would come out looking stunning, or the speech would wow the audience, but something far less noble.
The habit I had picked up over the years, that I had become so proud of, I realized it had its root in fear of failure as well as a lack of self confidence. At first I found it hard to admit, even to myself. For so many years I had seen this as a strength, and now to see it for what it actually was, a weakness and a hindrance to me being productive and to my growth and progress, was not easy to accept.
What I learned, though, is that being willing to do something you know you should do, even if you don’t feel ready, even if you have to somehow scramble through, is one of the fastest ways of getting ready. . Fear of failure will block your future, as it did mine, and scrambling through will often be a fast track to progress. At least it gets you in motion, and then you can always adjust the rudder to change direction some time later if needed. What a relief to know that you don’t have to be perfect. Just get started and do your best.