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You Can't Get Better Until You Start Somewhere

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

By Ryan Spelts

A person making pottery

I often see people who want to learn everything or know everything before starting a task. It frequently paralyzes them to the point that they won’t actually start. When I trained new salespeople, I called this analysis paralysis. I see it with business owners too. They often want an easy answer or to gain years of experience and wisdom in days or months.


Steve Jobs used to say, “If you look really closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”


Whenever I see someone struggling to get started or they are in analysis paralysis mode, I always say the same thing. “You can’t get better until you start somewhere!”


Often, we don’t know what we don’t know until we get started and learn through experience. I taught door-to-door salespeople for many years. I would put them through days of face-to-face training, I could teach them everything exactly like I did it, but it wouldn’t sink in until they got out and got their nose bloodied so to speak by actually talking to real people and then understanding why they needed what they needed. It takes experience to even know where to start.


This reminds me of an allegory.


There was a pottery teacher who wanted to try an experiment with his class. He split the class into halves. One-half of the class was told that their grade was to be solely determined by the quality of pottery that they created. It didn’t matter how many pieces they created, just that they made very high-quality pottery. The students could even make just one single piece, and as long as it was very good, they would receive an A.

3 people taking a pottery class

The second half of the class was told that their grade was to be determined solely by the number of pottery pieces that they could produce. Their quality would not be judged just that the pieces had to have some minimum standards, like holding themselves up, but that was it.


Over the course of the semester, the quality half of the class worked hard to make perfect pieces of pottery, while the quantity side of the class worked just as hard trying to make as many pieces as they could.

An interesting thing happened at the end of the semester. The half of the class that was given the assignment to create as many pieces as they could mysteriously also had the best quality. By getting to work and repeating the steps necessary to create pottery, they were able to also develop the skill of creating quality pieces.


So it goes with most stuff. You can get better at most things by just doing them. There is probably a point of diminishing returns, but once you reach a peak of performance with your current knowledge set, you can find more info, a course, a website, or a mentor who can help you level up. But that mentorship won’t matter as much until you reach a certain point of knowledge.


There are also the perfectionists among us who want everything to be perfect. While an admirable goal, it just isn’t possible in most cases. I love the Dan Kennedy quote, “Good is good enough, next!”


If you get so stuck making something perfect that you can’t complete it, it's time to complete it and move on. Then you can also set a bar and start making improvements as you go and learn.

So go ahead, jump into that project, launch your idea, and make a goal to do something audacious. It just might work, and you will certainly learn as you go.


The journey to mastery in any field, be it marketing, sales, or entrepreneurship, begins with the courage to take that first step. Perfection is a moving target, and often, an unattainable one. Embrace the concept of progress over perfection, and let experience be your guide.


By starting somewhere, anywhere, you open yourself up to the invaluable process of learning, adapting, and evolving. This hands-on approach not only cultivates practical skills but also encourages a mindset of resilience and innovation, essential traits for any successful marketer or business owner.


Whether you're a seasoned professional or a budding entrepreneur, let the wisdom of experience propel you forward. Dive into your projects, embrace the challenges, and watch as your journey unfolds into a story of growth, expertise, and success. Remember, you can't get better until you start somewhere, so why not start today?


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