If It’s Worth Doing Well, It’s Worth Doing Badly at the Beginning

Do you need a project cocoon?

One of my readers wrote in and let me know that this was their biggest issue:

My biggest issue is perseverance. If I do not see immediate results, I assume there is no interest, it isn’t a good idea, etc.

I totally get that. Given that mastery and focus are big values of mine, I neither like to not be good at something nor to do something that isn’t “getting me anywhere.”

The challenge, of course, is that personal growth is a more important value to me. You don’t continue to grow without trying new things, which means you’ve got to embrace not being good at those new things or them not paying off immediately.

A way I’ve gotten around this and coached other people to do the same is by implementing a new project cocoon. The cocoon is for both you and the project. It’s for you so that you give yourself a safe place to not be good at something, and it’s for the project so that it doesn’t get killed before it’s had a chance to bloom.

For instance, when I started my podcast, I made the commitment to publishing 50 episodes no matter how much I didn’t like it in the beginning or if I didn’t see listener growth or excitement in the beginning. Of course, I knew around the 40th episode or so that we’d keep doing it, but it would’ve been easy to stop earlier on. Similarly, when we started publishing two episodes per week, I wanted to make sure we did it for a bit to get used to it before evaluating it too much. We ultimately decided that publishing two episodes a week displaced too much that mattered more, but we waited to see what happened first.

I’ve done the same thing with workout schedules, productivity experiments, and other social projects like Periscope, Anchor, daily blogging, and so on.

Here’s the deal: if it’s worth doing and worth doing well, it’s worth doing badly at the beginning.

Expecting to be good at things from the beginning keeps us from being masterful in the end. And that said, this is not an invitation to bail at things you’re good at, either, just for the sake of self-development masochism. ;)


Charlie Gilkey is an author, business advisor, and podcaster who teaches people how to start finishing what matters most. Click here to get more tools that’ll help you be a productive, flourishing co-creator of a better tomorrow.