There is a brilliant scene in the HBO series Band of Brothers where a much revered (and feared) lieutenant is speaking with a private who has been stricken with overwhelming fear. The lieutenant explains that the fear comes – ironically – from the soldier’s sense that there is still hope of getting out of the war alive, and that if he is ever to function properly as a soldier, he must learn to accept that he is “already dead.”
Everyone who has watched the series remembers the moment. Even taking the clip out of context, the point is well made.
Now this may seem a bit of a depressing way to start a motivational blog post, but the point is actually quite simple. The more you let your need to get it right guide your life, the more you are likely to get it wrong.
Blythe’s problem in the episode is not that he has too much hope, but rather that he wants a perfect score. He wants to get through the war unharmed – and who can blame him?
What Lt. Speirs understands is that a perfect score is not going to happen. There will be injuries. Even deaths. Much is going to hurt. And little will be within his control. That’s the world he’s in and he sees it clearly. And it is that clarity which allows him to perform tasks which seem almost superhuman to many under his command.
I see Blythes everywhere I turn. I don’t have a certain scientific reason for the problem, but I do have my hunches.
I suspect it has something to do with our unbalanced value on Product over Process.
We have so much emphasis placed on results, on the show, on the look, on the results, that there’s no room for attention on the very bumpy and often deeply unpleasant road that leads to success.
Sport is only 50% win.
Science is not all CSI. It’s long, boring, painstaking graft.
Art is not all performance. In fact, it is precious little performance. The two hours of a show were preceded by perhaps two-hundred hours of rehearsal, not to mention the countless hours that went into devising, writing, re-writing, casting, and designing the thing. And most of it – truly the lion’s share of those hours – was filled with really embarrassingly bad work.
Stop being afraid of getting it wrong.
The issue here isn’t that you might get it wrong. The issue is that you absolutely will get it wrong. I’m not being the least bit poetic, here. This is utter pragmatism. Life is dirty. It hurts. And you will get it wrong.
And any hesitation out of fear for not being perfect is going to hold you back from Life itself.
Strive for the best, of course. But strive by doing, not by waiting.
That is all. Off you go.