By Leon Adato
(Originally posted at www.torahdinner.com)
One of the comments I got back from the post “Riding Uphill” was from my friend Phil, who said, “Davening is hard, although it gets easier after the first, oh, five or seven years. Then it gets hard again because you’ll have become so fluent at it that you will need to consciously slow down and focus on Kavana.”
I started to think about how long it might take to get “good” and what “good” looked like? Was “good” the people who led services at my synagogue?
Seth Godin wrote once about expertise in “The Myth of Preparation“. In it, he described 3 basic levels and the amount of effort to go from one to the other. The first phase – “beginner” is characterized by a steep rise in learning. The middle “novice” phase is mostly just repetition and practice with small incremental improvements, until you hit “expert” level.
All of this is pretty simplistic and the analyst part of me would love to see the supporting data. But that’s not the point. The point is that Seth’s description is close enough for his final premise:
“Here’s the myth: The novice stage is useful.
If all you’re going to do is go through the novice stage before you ship, don’t bother. If you’re not prepared to put in the grinding work of the expert stage, just do the beginner stuff and stop screwing around. Make it good enough and ship it and move on.
Go, give a speech. Go, start a blog. Go, ship that thing that you’ve been hiding. Begin, begin, begin and then improve. Being a novice is way overrated.”
Seth talks about “shipping” but what he really is talking about is making something public – going ahead and DOING instead of PREPARING TO DO.
This morning, instead of self-consciously whispering through my morning blessings – trying to hide what I was skipping, or what I was reading in English instead of Hebrew – I said them aloud. Sang a few of ‘em, when I could remember the tune.
As Seth would put it, I “shipped”.
It was rough. It was “not ready for prime time”. It was definitely not easy.
It might, as Phil said, take me another 4 years before it gets easier. But you know what?
For today, for the beginner that I am, it was Good Enough.