Who am I to judge? — Kelford Labs Daily

The reward of patience.

Who am I to judge? — Kelford Labs Daily
“If it were easy to be patient, and easy to do the work, then everyone would do it. What I've come to love about patience is that, ultimately, it's the truest test of merit: Are you willing to do the work, despite no guaranteed outcome?

— Dorie Clark, The Long Game

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a brand new YouTube channel dedicated to the types of technology I’m interested in.

At first, I’ll just say it, the videos were pretty bad. The production quality was low, the subject was unpracticed and awkward, and the tips and ideas were uninspired.

I’ll admit—with a fair amount of shame—my first thought was, “Who does this guy think he is? I know more than he does, and I’m not even a tech YouTuber.”

But, for some reason, I kept watching, video after video—maybe at first just to confirm to myself that the videos weren’t very good.

Something happened, though: They got better. Slowly—so slowly—but surely, each video improved upon the last one.

Maybe only 1% at a time—but after dozens and dozens of videos, it compounded into a step-change in quality. And then another. And another.

Now, this same YouTuber is something of a sensation, often quoted and interviewed on top podcasts, and is a featured contributor on one of my favorite tech websites.

Humbling, to say the least.

The question should never have been, “Who does this guy think he is?” but instead, “Who do I think I am?”

This YouTuber was doing the very same things I constantly advocate for: taking it slow, taking it one step at a time, and keeping at it until it worked.

How did he stick with it? Well, he was sincere, and he cared about what he was doing. And he experimented, making small changes in every attempt.

If he’d never started, he’d have never ended up where he is. And if he’d stopped because of criticism or self-doubt, he’d have never achieved what he’s achieved.

Like Brad Stulberg wrote in The Practice of Groundedness, “For most consequential endeavors, long-term progress is less about heroic effort and more about smart pacing; less about intensity on any given day and more about discipline over the course of months, and in some cases even years.”

If you stop because you’re not good enough yet, you’ll never actually get there. And nothing is ever started perfectly.

The key is to stick with it—improving with every single attempt—until you make progress.

And, one day, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.

But that only happens if you keep going.

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