Anthony Wijaya, making things for businesses and passionate creatives

Why You Probably Shouldn't Be Doing Things Right The First Time

I can already see some of you cringe just from the title I’ve written. I might be able to put it better than this but no worries, I expect some heated arguments on how I’m wrong when I decided to write this anyway.

To be clear, I’m not saying that you should always do things wrong the first time nor am I advocating this practice for every possible scenario, there are obviously some cases where you should indeed do things right the first time. But here’s my point (and a little personal story):

I believe we have had our lives easy. This is a good thing, especially considering the horror stories my parents often tell me about living in their age (or the 1970s up to 1990s). I don’t think I need to tell you about the 1940s because just from their stories, it’s clear to me how we should really appreciate the things we take for granted. And to me this means the internet. My parents had it especially hard, considering they live in a non-major city where there is basically no viable medium for entertainment. By ‘viable’, I meant to say ‘What is Acceptable For People Now’.

Yes, there is the occasional movies, but that’s it. This means no Internet and no TV, can you imagine that? Well I can, but I don’t want to live in that world, and if you’re like me I don’t think you want that too. I don’t want to exaggerate on how lucky we are, but damn it, I think we truly are lucky. Of course, I know this wouldn’t apply to every parents out there, but it is a reality for mine.

I’m not saying their life sucks, well I kinda am, but they clearly sound happier than I do, so something’s clearly wrong here. They probably even think as we do – that the era we live in are worse than theirs.

It’s been years since they first told me their story but It only came to me again recently. I unwittingly did some thinking about this, which results to this subjectively crappy article you’re still reading.

To my defense, I don’t think that any of us should get overly dramatic on how lucky we all are, blah blah and etc. That is not the point of this article and I’m not going to bring you over that line. My point is that with the advent of the Internet, we simply stopped doing stupid mistakes. By this I meant, good mistakes, which I know sounds really contradictory by itself. If you’ve ever read any kind of those inspirational books/articles out there the term ‘good mistakes’ should be familiar to you. For those who haven’t, I’ll let you know that it’s kinda like the ultimate cliche of inspirational works, that failure is the mother of success and the like. I’m not refuting that, in fact, I’m going to let it support my point in this article.

Moving on to my point, I believe the Internet has substantially reduced our natural-born ability in making mistakes. It’s literally what defines us as a human (You know the phrase: “We are only human afterall”?). But that’s now somewhat gone, and we start to do things right the first time with the help of the Internet and other kind of medias that’s available to us. Being always right is not really constructive, not every time anyways and sometimes being wrong is much more constructive instead. Guys like Tesla (you know, the inventor) and Einstein probably did mistakes all the time during their experiments, and they are one of the smartest guys that ever existed on Earth.

A more relatable example would be chefs, and this applies to home chefs as well. If you’re like me, you probably would read all this stuff about what you’re going to cook before you started. After all, it is the easier way out and it is obviously the smarter way to do it. I mean, what if you cook it the wrong way? It’s a waste of ingredients and we’re compelled to do it right the very first time.

Then again, if you think about it, the olden chefs out there, you know, the ones who created all the fancy techniques like ‘blanching” and this thing called souffles? I don’t think those guys do things right the very first time either. Maybe that’s why they can make it in the first place. Because they know things like how putting too much flour is not a good idea (stupid example, but you get my point) and how a ‘souffle’, which is still a concept/theory at that time, can be made into reality. I believe those kinds of thing can only be made if and only if they have the thought process and the experience as a support for their theory. I don’t think I need to tell you that the Internet wouldn’t really help them in their cases – because it’s never been done before and you can’t really find things that haven’t been done before in any part of the Internet.

Programmers are often guilty in this, as do I. By searching for answers directly, I often missed the reasons behind for example, a language concept like why you use pointers in C and how there’s no pointers in Java. If I’ve done things the hard way, i.e by making mistakes first, the results of my first exam would probably be different. Now I’m not saying that you should do it as if you’re trying to invent the language, feel free to visit stackoverflow after you’ve tried every possible way you can think of to make that line of code work.

And that, folks, brings me to my main point: that you should learn why everything really works the way it is instead of just accepting things the way they are. Do some thinking and take the extra effort, I promise you that it’ll be worthwhile. This can only be done by making mistakes, or you know (this is for us guys who likes shortcuts), the Internet if there’s someone else that has gone through the effort for you. Blogs often document these kind of things, and Google is already just a click away in your browser.

By the way I still fail in cooking up souffles (it just never rises properly). This article I’m writing is the only reason I’m planning to try it again.

Failures can be frustrating, but it’s the only thing that will help you learn the way we are born to do. By making mistakes and taking something from it.

I still can’t believe I’m quoting this:

“It’s only a mistake if you didn’t learn anything from it”.

Anyways, this is me trying to be inspirative.