“I’ve done far better by going ahead and doing things I didn’t know how to do than by waiting to understand how to do something before attempting to do it.”
I saw this post on my friend, Larry’s, Facebook page one day. My first thought upon reading it was that he was commenting about doing handy work around his house. Knowing Larry, however, I’m sure the intention with his statement dove much deeper than a leaky faucet.
I had to give some serious thought to his comment before deciding whether or not I agreed with it.
I was taken back to my 16-year-old self, when my high school was planning to implement a Kentucky Ethnic Heritage Festival. This was to be an all-day event, to celebrate the history and heritage of our state, through educational displays, games, food, entertainment, and other activities. Not only would the entire student body of our school be attending, but students from other schools, as well. Two of my history teachers pulled me into an empty classroom, one day, and asked me to be the Student Body Coordinator for this Festival. I didn’t think twice before agreeing. American History was my favorite subject, and I remember thinking it would be a good excuse to get out of some of my classes. That was true, but it also meant more homework to catch up on the work I missed in those classes. I didn’t have a clue how to begin this endeavor. My teachers simply told me plan activities that reflected Kentucky’s heritage and start making phone calls to businesses and organizations, asking them to participate. Easier said than done! I worked on this event during the entire school year, never really having a clue as to what I was or was not accomplishing. When the day of the Festival arrived, however, I remember standing in the gymnasium – dressed in a Native American costume, no less – amazed at all of the activities going on all around me. To this very day, I still don’t know how it all came together. I had a lot of fun working on this event, and learned a great deal in the process. If, however, I had known how much work was involved, I NEVER would have agreed to do it.
I’ve had similar experiences in my adult life, as well. One of the craziest things I started doing without having a clue how to do it was to start a business publishing a regional family magazine. My husband came home from a business trip, one day, and he gave me a copy of a regional parenting magazine that he had picked up during his trip. A few days later, I informed him that I wanted to publish a magazine like that for our community. I had a list of reasons why I wanted to do it. I like to write, and publishing a magazine would give me an opportunity to do more writing. I was raising two young children and often found it difficult to find family-friendly activities in our community. (This was before the days of the internet.) I loved the idea of having a resource that provided this information to local families. And what parent wouldn’t love having encouraging, helpful advice from other parents in the local area? The first issue rolled off the press six months later, and I don’t think I slept during the entire six months! I grossly under-estimated how much it would cost to pay a graphic designer, so I was forced to learn how to design and layout each issue on my own. Add that to all of the work that went into running the business, and there was definitely no time left for me to write much more than the editor’s page. I had to find and hire a team of writers. Those were only two of the many obstacles I quickly faced. The entire endeavor was a tremendous undertaking. I was working with a limited budget, which meant I was wearing a lot of different hats, from Editor-in-Chief to Janitor, and every role in between. Let’s face it; I had no clue what I was doing! Whatever made me think I could just start publishing a magazine? And, yet, the magazine grew for 15 years before being sold to a competing publishing company in town. It didn’t make me wealthy, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Still, it was a wonderful, intense, frustrating, hair-pulling, exhilarating experience; one that I never would have begun had I done the proper amount of research to learn all that was involved beforehand.
There is, of course, one life experience that many people jump into without knowing what they are doing, and that is having children. We get owners’ manuals, with step-by-step instructions, for every appliance or gadget we purchase, but they send us home from the hospital with a tiny, live human being – and no owner’s manual. Yes, I know there are endless baby books out there, but we all know that they don’t even come close to covering all of what is actually involved in raising a tiny human being from infancy to adulthood. There is no book or manual that warns us of the fact that these little creatures will grab hold of our hearts, and squeeze them continually, not just when they are little but for the remainder of our lives! When they hurt, our hearts hurt. When they cry, our hearts cry. When they experience life’s heartaches, and there is nothing we can do to make it better, our hearts ache, as well. If there was a manual that gave us complete, detailed, and truly accurate descriptions of everything that comes with raising children, it would scare us so badly that we might decide not to even have a family! What a shame that would be, for our children are our biggest blessings that God gives us.
Having children certainly doesn’t make us wealthy, and we make a lot of mistakes along the way in raising them. Still, it is a wonderful, intense, frustrating, hair-pulling, exhilarating experience. Nothing else we do in our time on this earth can compare to the time we invest in our children. Nothing is quite as fun as watching them grow, and nothing as interesting as seeing the world through their eyes. They also come with a bonus in that, once they are full-grown adults, they become our life-long best friends!
My reflection on things in my own life have led me to believe that Larry’s comment is quite profound. I’m not suggesting that one should attempt performing a surgical procedure without the proper education and experience. But, in many of life’s circumstances, it is, indeed, far better to just go on and do things you don’t know how to do rather than waiting until you learn how to do them. The experiences that come with the journey are every bit as important as arriving at the destination.