Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just Do It

Years ago I was asked to be liturgist during a church service. That meant getting up in front of the congregation of 200 and reading passages from the bible.

Besides running a lathe, public speaking is probably the only thing I'm afraid of. Oh, and spiders.

When I mentioned my anxiety about getting up in front of the congregation to my parents, my Dad said, "Bulls**t, get your *ss up there and do it."

Dad's not the best motivational guru but I did what he said, didn't trip on my way to pulpit, didn't faint, and lived to read another day.

What's this have to do with Get Woodworking Week?

I've noticed how often we delay starting a project because we're afraid we'll mess up, waste wood, make something that's not fit for show, won't know what we're doing, etc, etc., especially if we're planning to do something we've never done before.

This can be a roadblock, particularly for new woodworkers.

My advice is to just do it. Jump right in. Find a project in a magazine that spells out the details and start building.

One of my very first projects.
And I'm proud to show it.
As Chuck Bender said at a recent SAPFM meeting: woodworkers are afflicted with paralysis by analysis. Because of this and for other reasons, Chuck has started an online program to help woodworkers get moving.

And once you build your first couple projects, be proud of them. They represent the beginning of your exciting adventure in woodworking. The first project I made (which I no longer have because someone in the house pitched it) was a few small pieces of wood tacked together to form a box, and a scrollsawn cactus, painted with crazy southwestern designs, glued on the front.

Be fearless.

It's what I'm going to tell myself when I stand up in front of a group of strangers in April to give a presentation at a local museum.

And if you need more words of encouragement to get started woodworking, I'll be glad to give you my Dad's number.


Scott said...

I couldn't agree more! Fear is rarely useful. I have learned that when I think I'm almost ready to do something, that means I am ready (e.g. publishing this comment).

Ron Hock said...

Good post, Kari! Like the song says: might as well jump!

Tom Stephenson said...

Methinks your dad is awesome. Great post. Thank you.

Don Williams said...


I'm with your Dad on this one. You will do fine. I'll send you a presentation I made at our professional conference a few years ago, on the topic of dealing with audiences. Hope it helps.

Once you can fake sincerity the rest is easy.


PS It gets a lot easier after the first hundred presentations. ;-)

John Cashman said...

We may be related. Bulls**t was my dad's favorite word. He could use it in almost any situation, in every form imaginable. If your dad was also fond of saying "to make little boys/girls like you ask questions," "because I said so, that's why," and the ever popular "go out in the street and play on the white lines," then we are almost certainly related.

Kari Hultman said...

Scott, I see that you're a new blogger. Welcome to the blogging world. :o)

Ron, indeed!

Tom, he's quite the old school Dad. And I'm glad of it.

Don, thank you for sending me the pdf file. I read Roy's book, Kruschev's Shoe, and I'm happy to get ahold of another resource for presenting to audiences. :o)

John, he pretty much used the same motivational phrase on me when I was afraid to learn to drive. It worked then, too!

Chuck said...

Here's a little secret: I've screwed up on every single project I've built.

Chief among them is the wall clock in my living room. It was the second project I built and the first that wasn't made out of 2x4s. It has a solid door on the front with a beautiful cathedral pattern... which is upside down.

While I was building it, I planned to put the cathedral pointing up (this was before I understood that as a design principle, it just looked prettier that way), but I made a cut wrong and ended up taking a chunk out of what would be the upper-left corner. It was very visible. To make it less visible, I flipped the board over, which hid it pretty well, just below the black hinge.

And you know what people say when they see it? "Oh my God, that's beautiful"... I've yet to have anyone notice that the cathedral pattern is upside down or that there's a chunk missing from the door. They just see a beautiful clock.

I could go into detail about what I've screwed up on all my other projects, but trust me, the mistakes are there.

And no one notices.

Anonymous said...


I think I remember you also being afraid of bats? Thankfully, your policeman was there to help!


dad said...

one time when she fell and skinned her knee I said "come on Kari be a man, suck it up and keep on trucking." She did and it worked. One time she thanked for all the help with her wood working' I said "I didn't help, you did it all by yourself and deserve all the credit". She replied "You taught me what to say when I screwed up a project". I love that girl.

dad said...

I left out part of the story of the skinned knee. After she "Kept on trucking" she said " Dad you have such a way with words."

Megan Fitzpatrick said...

For me, the problem is not getting started – it's finishing the project. I have 4 partially done projects at the moment...the most recent of which I began six months ago.

And, I've proof that you can bore a hole with aplomb and alacrity (and in correct alignment) in front of 1,000+ people; speaking to a museum group will be cakewalk!

Stephen Roberts said...

Your dad was right just do it, and don"t worry is you miss something. As I like to say if we were all perfect we would all be GOD. I took a class on public speaking in college and the thing they said to do was just relaxe. I know the material and there for there is nothing to fear. This goes for woodworking also relax enjoy the journey and all will be good.

Kari Hultman said...

Chuck, excellent points. We're harder on ourselves than anyone else.

Scott, oh yeah, I forgot about the bats. I've come to terms with them because they eat mosquitoes. :o)

Dad, I'm a chip off the ol' block.

Megan, didn't you build a Pennsylvania spice box for your Mom, complete with string inlay, in like a matter of weeks? A spice box....in weeks. You are fast! Once you put your mind to it, you can finish all those projects in no time.

Stephen, that's great advice to relax and enjoy the journey. Thank you for the reminder.

Frank Vucolo said...


...bore a hole with aplomb and alacrity?
I was there for that and I'm pretty sure it was a brace and bit she used.


Fred said...

I have eaten a few mosquitoes and no longer have any respect for bats.

Kari Hultman said...

Frank, it wasn't a brace and bit, it was an implement of torture!

Haha@Fred. :o)