The most devastating affliction I am fighting against every day at the moment is not COVID or any other physical ailment. I am currently at war against the dreaded perfectionism disease. I am trying to heal and reform the people who say things like, I didn’t do anything because I was scared it wouldn’t be any good, if I am not good at it, I won’t do it, if it’s not perfect then I am not good enough, and I have to get it right first time. This is going to sound weird, funny, or even counter-intuitive, but I want to encourage you to aim to get it wrong the first time!
Get what wrong? Not everything, that’s for sure. If you are about to jump out of a plane for the first time, make sure you have done everything you need to do to get it right, the first time. However, even when jumping out of a plane, if you have ever done it, how many safe jumps did you make and how much did you practice before you went up in the plane? I am sure your first jump was terrible, right? How was your first attempt at walking? Perfect the first time, or a spectacular flop? How about your first attempt to ride a bike, kick a football, play an instrument, or make a sales call? Perfect? Or breathtakingly off the mark?
We know this logically, don’t we? The truth is, it is impossible to perfect anything on the first attempt, so why do we beat ourselves up mercilessly, judge ourselves critically and then make crazy decisions to give up on important things because we couldn’t get it right the first time? I am glad I do not have this character trait. I am proud of my averageness and imperfection, and I am excited about getting things wrong the first time. And the second, and the third and the fourth. I also know that my level of ‘wrong’ reduces with each attempt I make and eventually know I will get it right. How many attempts and how long does it take? As many attempts as required and as long as I need. I don’t care. I have one goal and one goal only, and that is to get the job done. To get something right, you have to be excited about getting it wrong the first time.
I am currently working with many aspiring authors, and I would have to say, tragically, the ones who have given up on the journey are the ones who resolutely hung on to the belief that if they couldn’t get it right the first time, they never would. No matter what I would say to them, no matter what evidence I would give them and no matter what made logical sense, they would give up on something that could have been one of the greatest joys and opportunities in their lives. If you are squirming as you are reading this, then this blog is for you. If you are tempted to stop reading, then hold on until the end with everything you have. If you fit into the perfectionist, I must get it right the first-time category, then this is possibly the most important message you can ever read, if you want to love your life, that is.
Go and talk to anyone who is doing what you would like to do, has achieved what you would like to achieve or has what you would like to have and ask them if they got it right the first time. If you find anyone who says yes, please let me know because I want to talk to them! We look at people who do things so seemingly effortlessly and incorrectly assume they were perfect, right from the beginning. Ha! They were just as clueless and incompetent as you believe you are. They just aimed to get it wrong the first time, knowing that with each imperfect attempt, and with resolute persistence, they would finally get the result they wanted.
This is my story to a tee; with everything I have achieved. I don’t know anyone more average, incompetent, or clueless than me when I started out in pursuit of the things I am grateful to have achieved. Getting it wrong never bothered me, however, not giving it a go always did. I now celebrate getting things wrong because it means I am moving, learning, evolving, and succeeding. In my podcast this week, called Actually living the dream I speak with Kara Bitar. She got it wrong for many years, as a lawyer, before she got it very right in terms of finding her passion and purpose in life. Now she is actually living her dream.
As always, today is a new day. You get to start afresh and change your attitude about what success and happiness represents for you. In my life, I now know that getting it right first time is neither success nor real. So, that being the case, I hope you will go forth with the attitude that getting it wrong the first time is the outcome you want. Embrace it, learn from it, and try again. Watch what happens in your life.