College. A musical instrument. Your career.
Here are 11 ways to avoid improvement (and 11 ways to embrace it). I’ve tested every one, and I guarantee both sets work!
How to Avoid Improvement
- Think defensively. Make big decisions based on fear.
- Wait for the fear to go away before you act.
- Never take action until you’ve considered every possible ramification, like a chess grandmaster thinking 10 moves ahead.
- Don’t ask questions. Prioritize looking smart over getting smarter.
- Pass up tempting opportunities because you don’t feel ready.
- Don’t do your work. If you never start a project, it can stay perfect in your head forever.
- Do your work, but don’t do it well. If you’d really tried, you could have done better.
- Do your work well, but don’t share it. If you’re a musician, never perform. If you’re a student, ace your classes but don’t give a presentation at your school’s undergraduate research conference.
- Don’t initiate. Wait to be invited.
- Don’t read ahead. Wait to be taught.
- Focus on what you’re owed instead of what you have to give.
How to Embrace Improvement
- Ask your fear what it thinks, then say “Thanks for your input, Fear.”
- Realize the fear never goes away.
- Thoughtfully consider your imperfect options, then choose the best one.
- Ask questions ad nauseum.
- Take action slightly before you feel ready.
- Kiss perfection goodbye before you start.
- Embrace imperfection in your work. All great art has flaws.
- Adopt the mindset If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t count. Because it doesn’t.
- Be the inviter. Everyone is waiting for you.
- Don’t be bound by the average person’s pace. You are not average.
- Give freely, and you’ll do plenty of getting.