A Modern Motto

I was just reminded of a saying that has helped me tremendously:

“Anything that’s worth doing – is worth doing poorly.”

Now, at first glance that might seem like a terrible motto – but when you think about it, it’s bordering on brilliant!

If you’re a recovering perfectionist, like me, then you can probably think of a lengthy list of opportunities that you let pass you by because you thought you wouldn’t be good at them. You dismissed them early on by saying things like:

“I’m not ready for that…”

“I’d like to, but…”

“Oh gosh, that’s just not my thing…”

One way singOur achievement driven society has convinced us that the saying should actually be “Anything worth doing – is worth doing well.” Of course we should always strive to be our best and do a good job at the challenges we undertake – but with that saying, if you can’t do it well then you’re probably not even going to try.  It shuts doors.


And then some would prefer to say, “Anything worth doing – is worth doingperiod.  But let’s face it, we only have so much time and energy to go around…and there’s just so much to be done! That saying puts everything on an even playing field and somehow makes all of life seem like drudgery, doesn’t it? Who wants to wake up every morning and painstakingly proceed to check off the items on a to-do list – simply because they exist?

Ah, but the magic of “Anything that’s worth doing – is worth doing poorly” is that it offers us a glimmer of hope, a chance to step outside of our comfort zone and try new things – without having to be perfect. The simple fact that we would even take on a project that we’re not completely prepared for somehow elevates and honors its importance. Also, it shines a light on areas of our lives that are actually demanding attention.  Ask yourself, why is this worth doing? And then, when you know the answer, proceed – full speed ahead.  Ironically, even if our first attempts do fall short of our ideal expectations – the fact that this is meaningful practically ensures that we won’t just stop at doing it “poorly” – we’ll continue to polish it until it shines.

Sing (Photo credit: Kathleen Tyler Conklin)

So tomorrow, when you wake up bleary-eyed and begin to plan your day, ask yourself “What in my life is worth doing poorly today?” You may be surprised at how liberated – and accomplished – you’ll feel!

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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.

2 thoughts on “A Modern Motto

  1. Marci, I read your post with great interest. Recently, an opportunity to do something a little out of my comfort zone was presented to me. I came up with all the bog standard excuses you have listed above. The fact of the matter is that I am scared to do something, and not do it well enough (perfectionist much?). You have made me realise that sometimes one just has to grab at life, at all experiences and opportunities. So what if it’s not the best? You tried, and that in itself is an achievement. Thank you.x


    1. That is so awesome – I love that you’re going to challenge it! And yes, with that attitude you cannot help but win on the most important level of all. I’m in exactly the same boat. Something has come up that scares me and I’m feeling…reluctant. But like you, I’m not slamming that door shut as quickly as I would have in the past. I’m entertaining the notion of it, researching it, and trying to find a way to become more comfortable with it. Otherwise, life just kind of passes us by, doesn’t it? So glad to know I’m in good company! Sending you waves of positive energy. Make it happen sister! 🙂


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