Just do it.

Mass marketing a decade or two ago convinced me those three words should be followed by a Nike swoosh. But this time they aren’t inspired by some tremendously wealthy elite athlete in a slick sneaker commercial. I’m thinking I should ‘just do it’ because of something I read on cbc.ca/manitoba.

Andrea Ratuski wrote about a promise Mike Deal made to himself. Mike wanted to become a better photographer, so he decided to take 2013 portraits of people in 2014. He forced himself to just do it.

The biggest hurdle for Mike was the fear of approaching strangers to ask if he could take their picture. He used to let the fear of what they’d say stop him before he even tried.

I must have been pretty young when I started listening to my negative inner dialogue. I remember when I was in elementary school and learning to print, I would be so dissatisfied with the letters I formed, I would erase attempt after attempt until there were holes in my paper. I held myself to a standard of perfection imposed by me and only me. I wasn’t critical of other people’s work. Mine was the stuff that wasn’t good enough.

Pushing for perfection may sound like a good thing, like a way to become one of those elite athletes in the Just Do It commercials, but being a perfectionist can also hold you back. You start listening to those automatic negative thoughts, get mired in the fear of failure and decide not to do it.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t made the time yet to learn how to paint. I have dresser drawers full of brushes, paints and blank canvasses. They’ve been sitting there for years, waiting for me to just do it.

What about you? What is it you dream of doing?

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you try?

Mike forced himself to try, and each time it got easier. He ended up meeting interesting people and taking beautiful photographs — 2013 of them to be exact.