Doing Poorly Until You Learn To Do Better

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. When I was a youngster I got into a number of fist fights on the school grounds. Now fighting was obviously frowned on by all teachers, but in those days kids settled differences between themselves and there was never any thought--regardless of the outcome of the tussle, which in most cases lasted just two or three blows--of getting a knife or a baseball bat, certainly not a gun, to get even with the victor. No, once the scuffle ended it was all over.

I had many such encounters and actually over a period of time I became quite effective as a "playground gladiator." Then, when I was in the 7th grade I decided to go out for the boxing team. I was confident I would be successful in that arena as well. At that point I weighed the tremendous total of 83 pounds, and on the boxing team they tried to match us up with people of equal size. One of my classmates was Joe Stringer, who weighed 63 pounds. Truthfully, I felt kind of sorry for him because there I was, a big bruiser outweighing him 20 pounds. When they laced on the gloves I knew I'd have to be careful not to hurt him.

At the sound of the bell, within three seconds Joe's left had landed squarely on the end of my nose. Apparently he thought I had a poor memory because about three seconds later he landed another. Throughout the round he landed again and again and again. Not only was it hurting physically, it was also terribly embarrassing. There this skinny kid was taking me to the cleaners!

The problem was very simple. Although he was much smaller, he had been on the boxing team for two years and had actually been the 60-pound state champion. It was really a slaughter, if you wanted to put it that way. The good news is after a couple days of this treatment, Coach Perminter took mercy on me, took me aside, and started teaching me some of the finer points of self-defense and making certain that when I threw my right, my left hand would come up to protect my chin. He taught me how to duck my shoulder so if that side was exposed, Joe's blows would glance of the shoulder and not land squarely on my nose. After about a week of instruction, I started to become the hit-or instead of the hit-ee--and that was a lot more fun. Within two weeks, because of my physical size, we were exchanging blows equally, and in another couple weeks I was dominating because I had learned. I had been embarrassed in the process, but I'm glad the coach took pity on me and I was willing to do something poorly--which I initially did--because it was the only way I was going to get better and better.

The reality is, regardless of whatever it is you do, you're not going to automatically become really good at everything. There is a process. But when we understand the philosophy that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly--until you can learn to do it well--your progress in life is almost guaranteed. Think about it.

Incidentally, if you have a story about how you learned the lesson of "anything worth doing poorly. . . " drop me a note and share it with me. It just might be published in the newsletter! If we get enough stories, who knows--maybe I'll even make a book of them! Needless to say, you'll be given credit as an author, and when the book is published you'll get your own copy. I would personally appreciate it and I'm confident many readers will also be grateful.


A talented author and speaker, Zig Ziglar has an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture, and occupation. Since 1970, he has traveled over five million miles across the world delivering powerful life improvement messages, cultivating the energy of change. Since 1970, an extensive array of Ziglar audio, video, books, and training manuals have been utilized by small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, U.S. Government agencies, churches, school districts, prisons, and non-profit associations...

Go Deeper | Website

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter