If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Wrong!

By Kyle Eastham

That’s right! Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong – at first. Remember when you first learned to ride a bicycle? Maybe it was Christmas morning or your birthday, and you were so thrilled to discover your shiny new bike. You were eager to ride it so you and Dad went into the street or the yard for your first attempt at this new skill. And you wobbled. And you fell. Maybe you started with training wheels. You ran into the curb. But you kept trying. And sure enough, you got better. Eventually you could ride with one hand, and then no hands! You kept trying because you liked it, and it was an important skill.

Think about other skills you may now take for granted: driving a car, baking a cake, using a spreadsheet, negotiating a contract, or hitting a golf ball. Those skills came with practice. On your very first attempt at those endeavors, you may have really fouled it up, or you may have been able to stumble through it without calling a paramedic.

But then on the second or third try, and on the twenty-eighth try, you got better at it. It came more naturally, more smoothly. You gained confidence as you gained competence.

I’m amused at the students in my judo class when they announce, after practicing a technique for 10 repetitions, “OK, I know this throw now.”

I tell them after they have done the throw 1000 times they will start to become comfortable with it. And after 5000 repetitions, they will be pretty good at that throw. But not until they have practiced the technique 10,000 times will they ‘own’ the throw.

When I was a younger judo student, my coach directed me to practice a particular throw 50 times with my partner. He told me to make sure everything was correct: weight on the balls of my feet, head turned in the proper direction, hands pulling correctly, hips squarely under my shoulders. After all, if you’re going to take the time to practice that many repetitions, you’ve got to do them right. Otherwise, you’ll become a leading expert in doing the technique – incorrectly!

I complained to my coach, “But I don’t like this throw,” since it was not one of my favorite techniques and I was not very good at it. His response was brilliant, “Then you need to do it until you do like it.”

I said, “Yes sir,” and did the practice drills. And I realized later that day what he had said. If I practiced the technique until I did like it, I would gain the skill and confidence in my ability to the point where I was comfortable doing the throw.

Think about top performers: Olympic gymnasts, NASCAR pit crews, fighter pilots, police tactical teams. Do you think the guy running the air wrench on the pit crew says to himself casually, “I’m not doing anything else this weekend; I’ll think I’ll head over to the race track and change a few tires?”

Of course not. He is very deliberate about perfecting his skills. That crew practices over and over and knows exactly where each crew member is during the pit stops. The few tenths of a second they shave off of their time by practicing could mean the difference in millions of dollars of prize money over the course of a racing season.

So if there’s a skill you need in order to pursue your goal, your dream, jump in and try it. You can read about it, you can look at websites, you can talk to others that have the skill, and you should do all those things. But at some point, you have to get out of the shallow end of the pool and try it.

Don’t be discouraged if you fail miserably. It’s a learning process. Next time, you’ll do a little better. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to average! And that’s where most people stop. But you can continue to improve – if you choose to invest the time, the money, and the energy.

You can work your way up to the expert level, that top 5% or top 2% where you’ll be recognized and compensated for your expertise. It may not take 10,000 repetitions. But it will probably take more than four.

So get started! Go try something and foul it up! And then try again. Find a coach or mentor and take advantage of their experience and insight. And keep trying. You’ll get there!

Author's Bio: 

Kyle Eastham is a professional speaker and a martial artist who teaches people to be the very best – the Black Belts – in their industry. Author of the book Life is a Bowl of Choices . For more information, go to http://www.BlackBeltSpeaker.com or contact Mr. Eastham at 405-201-1350 or info@BlackBeltSpeaker.com.