By Kyle Haiman
“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” – G.K. Chesterton
This quote seems to go against much of what we strive for and hold in esteem today. Shouldn’t we always be giving 110% to everything we do? Isn’t this just a quote to justify poor effort? Yes, we should try hard, but no, this quote is not excusing poor effort. In fact, I believe we could benefit from applying a bit of this mentality to our work and our life. Not on board? Let me see if I can explain.
It is important to clarify what this quote is not saying. It is not excusing lack of effort, quite the contrary; it is an encouragement for any person to try something new, be diverse in their interests, and to live their own life. Is the quote saying a poor result is ok? Maybe. Lets delve into that.
The pressure to be the best is present in most aspects of life. We all want to be the best student, employee, boss, supervisor, partner, parent, etc. that we can be. The idea of doing something we might not be successful at can be terrifying. If we do something, and it turns out adequate (or even poor), what does that say about us?
It says you are willing to take risks. You are someone who seeks adventure and challenge. You are someone who is not afraid to try something new. Ideally you have time to do your background research, plan appropriately, and launch a program/initiative that you think will be successful. Does that guarantee success? No, and that is ok.
In a time where strengths are all the rage, doing things you might not be great at probably seems counter-intuitive. I am not advocating that we all push ourselves to constantly grind on things we do not feel confident about. Utilizing your strengths in your job and life has numerous benefits. However, I do believe there is some value in challenging ourselves in the areas we do not excel from time to time. Doing this in a non-work related atmosphere (like hobbies) is a good choice. Don’t shy away from trying it at work from time to time as well. I believe this to be especially true when working with our students.
Fostering growth in areas that are important for students to be successful after college is part of our responsibility. If we only focus on what they are good at, and ignore important growth areas, I believe we are doing our students a disservice. It is important to pick a proper time and venue to challenge students in a supportive atmosphere. Do they need to become great in these areas? No, but being ok would be a good start.
So, how do I live this out? Well, this is my first blog I have ever written. I picked a topic I thought was relevant, organized it, wrote it, got feedback, made adjustments, got more feedback, made more tweaks and now you are reading it. Is it good? No clue. But hey, I did something new knowing that despite my best effort it could be a train wreck. And anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Until next time (maybe).
Kyle is the Assistant Director of Residential Life. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.