What's in a name?

A few people have said to me that they don't quite understand the title and sub-title of this blog , and indeed they may appear a little incongruous. If I'm so interested in business, politics and society, they ask, why am I talking about doing things badly? What's so great about doing things badly anyway? And what's the connection with "Sociablism"?

Well, allow me to explain...
  1. "Bad" is relative. We are often put off doing things we care about because of a perception of inadequacy relative to external standards. Often these standards are actually our own judgements, and we are harsh on ourselves; others may value what we do even if we don't. I don't consider myself to be a very good "blogger", but some people seem to enjoy what I write. If I censor myself, my contribution stops.
  2. Good is dull. In this crowded world, we don't need millions of people aspiring to do the same things. Often the thing that you think is bad about what you're doing is actually what makes it stand out from the crowd. Bad is different, more human, more fun.
  3. Doing things badly is actually the second stage of learning. We move from unconscious incompetence through to "conscious incompetence" - doing things badly - before we move onto conscious and unconscious competence. If we don't respect this second stage, how can we ever really learn?
  4. Celebrating doing things badly gets us out of the standards trap. If we only value things done well, we are faced with the choice of praising others falsely for a quality which is in fact lacking, or crushing their passions by imposing external standards on them. Many young people these days seem to have unrealistic expectations of their own skill levels, both positive and negative. If you celebrate doing things badly, you can give someone encouragement without creating false perceptions.
  5. The things we do have important incidental effects on our community development, social and cultural systems, mental and physical health and relationship with the environment. The things we do have all kinds of unintended consequences, good and bad. When people in rehab weave baskets, it's not because they need baskets. If we only do the things we are "good at", we will stop doing many of the things that imperceptibly nurture us and keep us healthy.
I believe that doing things badly provides a simple route out of some of the traps of the modern world, and moves us towards a more playful, sociable and constructive space. This is the root of "Sociablism": praising things not for their quality, but for the positive effects they have on our lives, both as individuals and as a society.

Over time I'll explore what this actually means in practice for politics, society, education and business. But for now, I'll leave you with the words of the great Samuel Beckett:

No matter. Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.