Thursday, July 13, 2006

Morality Tale

A few years ago, my New Year's Resolution was to floss every day. And I did; I was very proud of myself. After a few weeks, I already did it more or less automatically.

I always did it very quickly, though, and I wondered if I was being too cursory. So when I went to get my teeth cleaned again in the early summer, I was eager to hear what the dental hygienist said. If she had given me the "you-need-to-floss" speech again, then I would have quit flossing in frustration! But she didn't, she praised me and said it made a world of difference, upon which I admitted that I felt like I was doing a cursory job, but I was glad that that was better than nothing.

The moral of the story: A cursory effort is better than no effort at all!


Anonymous said...


Andrew, your flossing anecdote, and its moral, bring to mind one of the really BIG moments in my life:

Some years ago, one of my Quaker friends completely stunned me by saying "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly" ...

Once the initial shock subsided, I realized that I'd just encountered something powerful, and it was something that I had never before even imagined considering! It broke open my 'mental universe' in a quite awesome and wonderful way* -- providing me a much larger (and I think more deeply grounded) decision-making ethic/guideline/rule-of-thumb than what I'd previously been operating with, or had ever imagined.

This drastically revised/expanded way of viewing things has made a huge difference to me ever since, and I covet every opportunity that comes my way (including this one!) to pass it* along.

Thanks, Andrew, for showing me that it applies to 'small things' like flossing, too!

-- dhsh

* "Additional details available upon request" ... :D))

Andrew Shields said...

> "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly"

I tried to find a source for this. I found two extensions:

a) until you learn to do it well.
b) rather than not at all.

The first one is attributed to one Steve Brown, without any further information about who that might be.

Ruth B. Shields said...

I have been flossing (again) for the past 5-6 weeks since adding it to my "10 delicious daily habits" checklist. I too think I'm doing only a cursory job, but know/think/believe it's better than nothing.

One of the reasons I started flossing again recently came out of a recent epiphany along the lines of "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly". Mine instead was: "I only practice what I already know how to do and what I enjoy doing." I wondered, "What would happen if I practiced what I don't like and I'm not good at and see what comes of it?" Since then, I have been applying for 10 jobs a week. As I result, I now have a resume I'm actually proud of that I can quickly tweak for almost any kind of job that's out there and I am getting much more comfortable writing cover letters.

I know that all the practice is working because I'm now inspired about the process, have come to trust that there's actually something out there that I would like to do and that will pay me well, and am now even willing - or more than willing ... excited! - to work full-time for a while at something and stop struggling in start-up as an entrepreneur.

Results? I have two interviews coming up in the next 10 days and am in the pipeline now with the City of Sacramento and UC Davis for several more.