I was attending a three-day change management training with about 15 other people from various industries. We had been working on in-class projects and presentations, and one man from a well-known tech company casually said to a classmate as he plugged away at his project, “You can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
I am a second degree black belt, but I am not an advanced fighter.
Sparring has never been my forte as a child or as an adult taekwondo practitioner. Sometimes I’ve hated it. Sometimes I’ve looked forward to it. Sometimes I both dread and enjoy it. It has always been a learning experience. I don’t live up to my impossibly high expectations, and of course that sets me up for frustration.
I decided to change my approach to sparring at the dojang I’ve been attending since December of last year.
Last Friday I was helping a coworker set up for a class he was teaching. It was one we had both taught at least ten times in the past and would teach many more times in the future. Before the class started he was jokingly saying to me and my manager that he was nervous.
You have to understand my coworker–he is larger than life, an incredible presenter, a talented singer, and a Toastmasters competitor. Public speaking is not something new or foreign to him.
In a previous post I announced that I was going to take up classical guitar again with the intention of approaching it as a white belt. I had a restless, nagging urge to do something new and approach it completely unencumbered with the expectation or even hope of competence.
Apparently what I was really searching for was something to help me break a cycle of lifelong perfectionism and self-imposed pressure to perform.
It all started with a lesson in re-stringing a guitar.
At the beginning of June my Master decreed blessedly, thankfully, that we could wear t-shirts with our dobok pants for training…as long as they were school-branded shirts of course. Her reason–it’s so damn hot in the Texas summer that we were absolutely roasting in our dobok tops.
Like many friends and former classmates, I turned forty this year. It was interesting to see how people celebrated (or not). There were a few Vegas trips. There were a few parties. There were a few moments of contemplation. Mostly I saw a renewed energy and excitement about the future that we haven’t always associated with turning forty. My generation seems to be grabbing forty with gusto and running with it.
A quick internet search of the phrase “fail fast” brings up a mixed bag of business articles, strategy tips, and tech blogs. In April 2018, Forbes magazine published an article titled “How to Fail Fast–and Why You Should,” only to publish “The Foolishness of Fail Fast, Fail Often” five months later. It’s a popular phrase among the lines of being “lean” (i.e., cutting funding) and “agile,” (i.e., pushing through change that might or might not be well-planned).
A few years ago I was visiting my brother and his wife in another part of the state. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and we went to my sister-in-law’s parents’ house for lunch. Her brother, sister, and brother-in-law were there, as well as her sister’s two children.
“Are you going to make good choices today?” her sister said to her kids as they ran off to play. Her tone was sunny, but there was a shadow of consequences lurking behind.
“Are you driving it like you borrowed it or are you driving it like you OWN IT?!”
My Body Combat teacher growled and grinned at us as she threw jabs and pushed her sweaty acolytes to work harder. As I bounced and punched I had to suppress a chuckle and filed her comment away in my brain for a future blog post.