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Stop Trying To Do Things Well: Getting Over Zero

June 25, 2013
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This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Mediocre Excellence

The biggest hurdle is not quality but quantity 1. Specifically the quantity known as 0. It’s not doing things badly that’s the problem, it’s not doing them at all.

So stop trying do things well. Stop trying to do things better. Stop giving a fucare about how well you’re doing the thing (I’m thinking of language immersion here, but perhaps the idea applies somewhat more widely). You weren’t even gonna do it five minutes ago, now you’re worried about doing a good job?! No. It’s too early for that.

And by the time it’s not too early for it, you’ll be so good that you don’t have to worry about quality. So there.

“Well” will do itself. All you need do is the “do” part. Do something badly, do anything, timebox it for like a minute and then be done, because there are worse things than bad. Sure, 1% isn’t as awesome as 100%, but 0% is even worse. 0 is even worse.

0 is insidiously evil; it’s like an asymptomatic rot invisibly eating away at your life and projects, because when you do 0 you can convince yourself that you’re holding an ace up your sleeve and it’s just a matter of you haven’t played it yet. 0 gives the illusion of infinite possibility, where 1 is clearly a 1; the wave function has collapsed and it can’t be more, it can’t even coulda been more; it just is what it is.

Say no to 0. Do something. Anything. Any. Thing. Now. Play that Japanese. But don’t play Japanese that’s good for you. Don’t play something you “should” learn. Don’t should all over yourself — you do not have mental or physical bandwidth to do the right thing, let alone a right thing or even a good thing, all you can do is something. Don’t even bother to make sure the volume is up all the way; don’t bother make sure it loops forever; just play it. Now.

Most if not all human beings are good. Especially women; I say a lot of mean things about the wenches 2, but women are great. It seems to me that women and nice men always want to do the morally right thing. All the women I interact with on a regular basis, from Mormons to Buddhists to atheists, practice the same moral philosophy: relentless niceness. Always afraid to do something easy or fun or that would make someone else feel bad; always doing things the hard way; always with the busywork.

A German kid named Albert once said that: “[i]t has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Well, what he neglected to mention that was that our humanity, our morality, long ago exceeded our energy. Your sense of righteousness is writing cheques that your body can’t cash. Stop trying to do things right, start doing them at all. The “right” thing may be the hard thing, but only the easy and fun thing actually works because you’re only gonna actually (consistently) do the easy and fun thing.

Series Navigation<< How To Get Nothing Done: The Art and Science of Wresting Defeat From the Jaws of VictoryThat Righteous Feeling, Or: If You’re Not Feeling Naughty, You’re Doing It Wrong >>

Notes:

  1. More on that here.
  2. Since you asked, the basic plan is: flip the script from misogyny to positive stereotyping for this post, lampshade it, and then go back to the usual: “wimminz need to shut up and know their place” zingers in future posts. So it makes the whole thing seem like one big, ironic joke rather than actual, seething, creepy venom. Emphasis on the “seem”. Now you know :P .
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5 Responses to Stop Trying To Do Things Well: Getting Over Zero

  1. 魔法少女☆かなたん on June 30, 2013 at 18:10

    ゼロなんてぶっ飛ばせ!o(⌒∇)=━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━○★)゚O゚)/

  2. [...] Japanese All the Time.”  However, I am the living embodiment of AJATT’s article, “Stop Trying to Do Things Well:  Getting Over Zero.”  Khatz [...]

  3. [...] about just trying something with guitar.  I’m following AJATT’s philosophy of “Getting Over Zero.”   “Just.Do.Something.”  My pull is just to stop playing because I haven’t [...]

  4. Ryan on July 26, 2013 at 14:04

    I really enjoyed your post. I found your post while thinking about whether I should stop saying I would try to do something, or try not to do something. I know thinking in absolutes isn’t always good. I think in this case I should just skip the ‘try’ and just handle the ‘something’.

    Well that’s where my minds at. Thanks again.

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