Your work will get better

My first project was a neighborhood lending library as a 9 year old with 7 “partners” (read: friends). It was a painful experience since one of the partners who contributed 30% of the books threatened to walk away from time-to-time. It also was an important life lesson – beware of partnerships; they don’t look all that good when things go bad.

I was often ashamed at my own contribution to projects I worked on at university. It felt like I just couldn’t do things well. I was very glad we did our talk show but was somehow embarrassed at the same time. The work I did on both projects was not really repeatable. Most of my learnings were about how-not-to-things as I still hadn’t learnt how to do things well.

Things got better with a final university project and with RealLeaders.tv. But, our RealLeaders.tv team would be the first to admit that the process was neither clean nor sustainable. Similarly, it took me a good year and a half at work before I gladly brought forth an excel sheet I worked on – I was perennially reluctant. It is too early to say anything about Help2Grow.org but, I think, our systems are better than any of the other projects I’ve worked on. It look a long time before I began working on processes that were repeatable. This blog is evidence of that. I do things things have gotten better over these six and a half years. And, long may that trend continue.

Many of these projects were painful self-inflicted learning experiences which didn’t really make sense at the time. The one common theme is that they’ve always made sense looking back. For instance, the video editing skills I picked up from my talk show days have been incredibly useful in a vast variety of situations in these past 5 years. Seeking out projects in addition to what you’re “supposed” to be doing may feel masochistic and make you wonder why you inflict more pain on yourself. But, they always are worth it. The dots only connect when you’re looking back.

Most of these projects will fail, for one reason or the other. That’s the point. We don’t strengthen our failure muscle enough in our workplaces and in our lives (more on this another day).

Finally, your work will get better. Definitely. You just have to put a lot of effort into life and life will give back just as much. Putting a lot of effort into life doesn’t mean things get any easier for you. In fact, there probably will be more challenges than normal. But, as a wise friend pointed out to me, you’ll cope just fine.

And, if things don’t work, not to worry. We will try again tomorrow.