“Imperfect action beats inaction every time.”Harry S. Truman
For some reason, one of my favorite quotes from Harry S. Truman came into my mind the other day. If you have ever attended one of our Agile Best Self North Star workshops, you may remember this is one of the quotes I share as it one that contributed to the process of my own discovery of my North Star — to be a light. I also put this quote as my Instagram bio, because I wanted to remind myself to be about action, even if it’s imperfect. That was how I interpreted the quote previously.
Then as I was writing my last post, A Little Tweak, I thought about my favorite Truman quote some more and pondered its meaning again, in light of the wrench metaphor. I came up with a new insight about the quote as a result. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving, when you find new pearls of wisdom from things we already know.
What happens when we have a bias for action, and take imperfect actions? We learn. We learn about what does not work. We get a chance to inspect, adapt and get better. We can learn to get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. I am certain that this year you have had opportunities to practice this, same as me, to figure out how to navigate all that 2020 threw (and unfortunately continues to throw) in our way.
Like Thomas Edison said:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”Thomas Edison
Here’s where having the optimism skill helps — believing that something good is going to happen, and then going for it. A video we use in our Agile Best Self workshops illustrates this point very well. The young lady on the ski jump has learned what she needed to do this jump, “it’s just a bigger 20…”, and was now in a position to take on the next challenge – the tougher jump. My body activates every time I watch this video. It reminds me of the Truman quote, and that I should not fear going for it.
In my opinion, this is what the best self journey is all about. Our highest priority is to be our best self so that we can enable others to be their best selves.
In 2021, I need to get up on that metaphoric ski jump and go for it more often, and be willing to learn when it doesn’t work out.
I’ll keep the Truman quote front and center to help me.
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