The Perils of Half-Assing It

art of encore living personal development Sep 14, 2022

There’s a time and place for learning new things and taking risks.

After all, difference-making and growth occur at the edges of our current understanding and abilities.

By definition, developing our potential, delivering on our promise, and making change happen means engaging in activities that might not work.

This is how we build personal assets, like humility, patience, acceptance, resilience, and necessary skills, tools, strategies, and wisdom to help make meaningful change for the better happen.

As the assets we cultivate mature and improve, they move from being unproven, uncertain, and unreliable to becoming proven resources we can confidently rely upon.

Something I notice in myself and the change agents I coach is that in our desire to make a bigger difference, we begin building more and more new assets but don’t nurture them all the way to fruition.

Here’s the thing, you can’t fully leverage a skill or tool that’s only half-built or incompletely understood.

Too often, well-intentioned do-gooders (myself especially) get bogged down in what I call “the messy middle” —a place where we juggle half-baked items and ideas that can’t efficiently complete their mission because they’re not fully formed.

Again and again, I catch myself and those I work with and for half-ass their knowledge and skill development and then stop, drop them, and go back to learn and practice something new.

The messy middle keeps getting messier, and managing it becomes a full-time job that actually prevents us from making the change we wanted to make when we first started learning and practicing something new in the first place.

Here’s the thing, less is more.

It’s akin to the hedgehog and fox analogy first expressed by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, “a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Not that there isn’t virtue in knowing many things. There certainly is.

The essential point is to know the thing you know well enough to engage and exploit it thoroughly before learning the next something (if a next something helps make the change we seek to make happen more efficiently and effortlessly).

What fundamentally must happen to make the difference you want to make? What essential knowledge and tools do you need to strategically make the change you want?

When you dial in the fundamental and essential, you’ll likely find you already possess all the assets you need and can start clearing out the cruft collecting in the messy middle.

 


Scott Perry, Encore Life Coach at The Art of Encore Living

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