I used to believe “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly”. I don’t anymore.

Now I think it’s worth doing some things very badly.

Start badly

If you’re new to something, it may be impossible to do it well. You will start awkward. Like learning to walk, you try and fail. Gradually you improve but you don’t start with excellence. I don’t start anywhere near it.

Too much focus on excellence can put you off trying new things.

I am new to indoor climbing. I am very bad at it but it’s worth doing. Each week I ask why I am leaving my warm home on a winter’s night to clamber up a wall? Weird. Here’s why.

Yes, I’m learning about balance, holds and technique. Mostly though, I’m learning about focus, working through fear, overcoming pride, overcoming difficulty, tolerating awkwardness.

Pure fun

I have danced salsa for over a decade. I still dance a bit but the thrill is gone. It’s not exciting like it once was. These days, I have a degree of competence.

The truth is, dancing was more fun when I was less competent, more awkward, more new to it. I enjoy my competence but as a beginner it had all the intensity of infatuation. It was pure fun.

In a beginners salsa class there’s a lot of giggling. The giggles happen most when it all goes wrong. It’s almost more fun when it’s doesn’t work.

Learning is growing

Learning is growing. An awkward phase is guaranteed. Growing pains are inevitable. The awkwardness can be embarrassing.

Trying a new move last night in climbing class, I fell off the rock. Again, and again… and again. I wasn’t very high but I swung in that harness like a baby in a swing (without the cute).

A girl in her early teens encouraged me. She’s about my size but she has muscle tone and skill. I’ll probably never be that good but I can learn and improve.

Creativity is experimenting

When you experiment, you don’t know what will happen. You try something, you see what happens. It’s curiosity. If I do this, what happens?

When you create something new, you put elements together and see what happens. If you always do the same things, you get the same results. Making something new is thrilling. Working the formula, not so much.

Worth doing badly

If you never let yourself do it badly, you’re going to stop learning, stop growing, stop creating and you may even stop having fun.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

Right now, I’m off to do a couple of push-ups. It seems I’m going to need actual arm muscles. Triceps or biceps? One of those. It was the 90’s when I last went to a gym. We wore shiny leotards. Really.

What is worth doing badly for you? What do you get out of it?