Learn to throw

And let the catching take care of itself.

We want to learn to catch, while all we need is to learn to throw. And let the catching take care of itself.

We write books and blogs and want them to be great.

We start businesses and want them to succeed and make us a million dollars.

We launch podcasts and assume we’ll beat Tim Ferris.

We’re doing it wrong.

How about we forget about getting and focus instead on giving? And I don’t mean people, I mean the task at hand.

In his new book on shipping creative work, The Practice, Seth Godin talks about a great metaphor for learning how to do anything creative.

When people learn how to juggle, he says, they all make the same two mistakes.

Mistake #1: They take too many balls and rush ahead instead of taking just one ball.

Mistake #2: They focus too much on the outcome – that is, on catching the balls.

The most efficient way, Seth tells us, is to take one ball, throw it, and then watch it fall down.

Do that for 20 minutes, and you’ll get really good at throwing. Then take a second ball and learn to throw it too, all the while watching the balls drop to the floor.

The most important part: Once you become an expert at throwing, the catching will follow.

This works equally well for all creative work (writing, business, innovation).

We’re so focused on the outcome that we forget which game we’re playing.

If only we refocused on throwing the balls (writing anything) and watched them fall to the floor over and over (writing bad), we’d soon enough increase our skill to a point when the catching (writing good) would take care of itself…

As the US swimmer Terry Loughlin once noticed, “To learn to swim, you have to drown for the first hour or so.”

So, write anything. Start several businesses. Launch multiple podcasts. Let them all fail. Allow the balls to fall to the floor. Once you become better at starting and finishing and failing, success will be just around the corner.