“Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” Those words were penned by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, in a letter to his son back in 1774.
The 4th Earl of Chesterfield knew was he was talking about. There is no purpose in doing anything worth doing unless you intend to do it well.
At least eventually.
Successful people are willing to do something poorly until they can do it well. Often very well. There was a kid who lived in North Carolina and loved basketball. He wanted to play for his high school team. He gave a mighty effort to make the team but he wasn’t good enough. The sophomore at Laney High School didn’t make the varsity team, instead he was sent to the Junior Varsity to develop more.
He was told that his shooting was okay but his defense was mediocre. Plus, he wasn’t nearly tall enough at 15 years old to be guaranteed a spot on the team. He went home after hearing the news and cried alone in his bedroom.
Lots of people would have given up at that point. He could easily have been one of them. He could have decided to switch sports and give his second favorite sport, baseball, a try. But he persisted. He was willing to play basketball poorly until he could play it well.
He worked and worked. Made bad shot after bad shot, until most of his shots weren’t that bad. He worked especially on his defense. He began to enjoy denying other people the opportunity to make a shot almost as much as he enjoyed making his own. Oh, and he grew a bunch too.
But it was his willingness to play poorly (keep in mind “poorly” is a relative term) until he could play well (well is a relative term too) that made him into the player he turned out to be. He became a good enough player that he actually played for a bit in the National Basketball Association. He even contributed to his team winning some games.
Less successful people often give up when they are right on the cusp of making most of their shots. They become demoralized with doing something poorly so they stop trying. They likely have a lot of “help” in becoming demoralized as the people around them continue to reinforce the notion they that aren’t very good.
If you want great success then you must be willing to do something poorly until you improve enough to do it well. Few people succeed on their first attempt.
But, here’s the caveat. You must be honest with yourself while attempting to move from a poor performance to a great performance. You must have some form of measurement in place to objectively evaluate whether or not you are making progress. Once you objectively make that determination you’ll know what to do.
But whatever you do, don’t quit. Perhaps stop trying to make the basketball team and go out for the debate team. Trying something else is NOT quitting. It is redirecting your efforts to an area where your chances of success are greater. That’s called being strategic.
Oh by the way…that high school basketball player who couldn’t make the varsity…his name is Michael Jordan. You can Google him if you’re interested in knowing more about the guy many people consider the GOAT.
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