“Do* it right the first time.” I don’t usually think of the saying, but it defines the work I do. It’s why I research the articles I write. If I don’t know what a term means, such as “sidejacking,” I research the term. I usually learn more than I ever wanted to know about a topic with my “do-it-right-the-first-time” method, but I’m more than happy with the end result, a well-written article that best serves either this blog or a specific writing project.
I didn’t awaken one morning with the “do-it-right-the-first-time” mantra stuck in my head. No, it took years of practice. It also took the discipline of a fastidious mother. She provided the first, sometimes painful, experiences with doing it right the first time. I well remember having to work on a book report for an entire afternoon while my brothers were outdoors playing because I had procrastinated. The experience was torturous but well-remembered. It was the first and last time I delayed in writing a paper.
As I got older, I became self-disciplined and didn’t need my mom to make sure that I did things right the first time. I simply sought to do them right. That’s why I spent hours working on calculus homework. That’s why I took the time to learn to balance chemical equations. I may have struggled with that work, but being able to solve those problems was important to me. I wanted to do the work right the first time. The result of that time-intensive labor? Getting the right answer. Understanding the problem. Conning the school’s math and science facilitator into believing that I was a math and science genius. The sweet, simple joy of success.
Today, I don’t have to worry all that much about solving a problem involving imaginary numbers or how certain chemicals react. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my mantra. It’s still in my head, informing the decisions I make and the work I do. It’s just so natural anymore that I sometimes forget it’s there.
*Originally published April 8, 2011