Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. When I was a
youngster I got into a number of fist fights on the school
Now fighting was obviously frowned on by all teachers, but
in those days kids settled differences between themselves
and there was never any thought–regardless of the outcome
of the tussle, which in most cases lasted just two or three
blows–of getting a knife or a baseball bat, certainly not a
gun, to get even with the victor. No, once the scuffle ended
it was all over.
I had many such encounters and actually over a period of
time I became quite effective as a “playground gladiator.”
Then, when I was in the 7th grade I decided to go out for
the boxing team.
I was confident I would be successful in that arena as well.
At that point I weighed the tremendous total of 83 pounds,and on
the boxing team they tried to match us up with peopleof equal
One of my classmates was Joe Stringer, who weighed 63 pounds.
Truthfully, I felt kind of sorry for him because there I was, a big bruiser
outweighing him 20 pounds. When they laced on the gloves I knew I’d have to
be careful not to hurt him.
At the sound of the bell, within three seconds Joe’s left
had landed squarely on the end of my nose. Apparently he
thought I had a poor memory because about three seconds later he landed
another. Throughout the round he landedagain and again and again.
Not only was it hurting physically, it was also terribly
embarrassing. There this skinny kid was taking me to the
The problem was very simple. Although he was much smaller,
he had been on the boxing team for two years and had
actually been the 60-pound state champion. It was really a
slaughter, if you wanted to put it that way.
The good news is after a couple days of this treatment,
Coach Perminter took mercy on me, took me aside, and started
teaching me some of the finer points of self-defense and
making certain that when I threw my right, my left hand
would come up to protect my chin.
He taught me how to duck my shoulder so if that side was
exposed, Joe’s blows would glance of the shoulder and not land
squarely on my nose.
After about a week of instruction, I started to become the
hit-or instead of the hit-ee–and that was a lot more fun.
Within two weeks, because of my physical size, we were
exchanging blows equally, and in another couple weeks I was
dominating because I had learned.
I had been embarrassed in the process, but I’m glad the coach
took pity on me and I was willing to do something poorly–which I initially
did–because it was the only way I was going to get better and
The reality is, regardless of whatever it is you do, you’re
not going to automatically become really good at everything.
There is a process. But when we understand the philosophy
that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly–until you
can learn to do it well–your progress in life is almost
guaranteed. Think about it.