Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly

Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly … at first.

NLP Comprehensive

When I was a student, I read Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist by Chuck Jones, director of the ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoons. A story from that book made a deep impression on me—I don’t remember it exactly, but let me share the gist of it.

When he was starting out, a senior animator told Jones everyone has about 10,000 lousy drawings in them that they need to get rid of, before they can really start drawing.

Jones used that ‘10,000 lousy drawings’ line to spur himself, drawing and re-drawing just so he could get that one perfect drawing.

In his career, Jones was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning thrice. Makes those 10,000 lousy drawings worth doing.

10 replies on “Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly”

  1. great story Alvin. It often surprises me when people I know won’t try something new because they are scared of “looking like an idiot”. That’s a pretty messed up way of looking at life. When we started The Podcast Network a year ago, I had no idea what it took to run a media company. I’d never been in the media business. I’d never run a company. We’d only been podcasting for a couple of months. But I just kept telling myself “well, cmon, how hard can it be?” And hell, we’ve made LOTS of mistakes. Keep making them every day. But you learn. You get smarter. I remember reading the BRW Rich 200 (an annual list of Australia’s wealthiest individuals) many years ago and realizing that many of our most successful businesspeople had failed over and over in business until they finally got it right.

  2. More NLP goodness – thanks, Alvin. It reminds me of 1) Giacometti (I can’t *believe* beth mentioned him), and 2) Lamott’s idea of writing a “shitty first draft” (from “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”). Disclaimer: I have read neither book yet!

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  4. I love the bit about everyone having 10,000 bad drawings in them. You can transfer that to anything you do, i’ll keep that one for future 😉

    I used to get caught up with “Anything worth doing is worth doing WELL” but really if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing. Better to start it than not to because you’re after perfection.

  5. I don’t entirely agree with this argument. Some people don’t learn incrementally, or bit by bit. Instead, they ‘know’ or master how to do something all at once, like a switch going off. I’ve mastered many skills not by practicing the same skills and getting better a little at a time, but by doing only a few times, until the switch comes on. After that, only minimal improvement comes from repetition. I’ve never understood why people insist on practice…but I guess it works for most people. Believe me, I wish I did learn bit-by-bit, life gets boring quick when you master things so quickly.

  6. lol, if you master everything so quickly maybe you should start trying to do some actually difficult things….most people can master the art of sleeping or eating after few tries…unless you’re a fantastic genius… 😛

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