Gmail was in beta for ten years!

Some time ago, when I logged into my Gmail account, I was reminded of the evening of my graduation from an intense and knowledge-rich digital marketing learning programme funded by Google.

As we were smitten by all that was unfolding, seated in neat rows in front of the audience that gathered to celebrate with us, Google South Africa country manager, Luke McKend, delivered his speech. It was ten points that he served to us as advice going into the media business (and for our lives outside of work).

And let me tell ya. It was a short yet mesmerising presentation!

One point which stood out and I still live by was simply titled, Gmail was in beta for ten years. For this lesson, Luke told us how the e-mail application was not delayed to market because it wasn’t perfect. Of course, the point of it was: we ought not wait for the right time for everything we set out to do in our lives.

Just start and you’ll figure out other things on the fly. Jason Fried and David Hansson put it eloquently in their book, Rework, when they addressed the point of winging things, too. This analogy flies the point home: “It’s OK to wing it. Just get on the plane and go. You can pick up a nicer shirt, shaving cream and a toothbrush once you get there.”

Wanting circumstances to be better and suit us is the reason many of us never start the projects we need to. So we waste time shuffling around and whining about how timing just isn’t right. No wonder we never reach a level of mastery in the things we do — we never start.

My guess is, there’s a brilliant Writer in almost every media college who is not sure whether to start their own website. They worry about their writing not being world class, that people just might disagree with their opinions and such things.

And in such instances — as was the case when I recently mentored someone who wanted to start their own blog and needed my advice — I often say to them: “Putting yourself out there means starting that blog you’ve been thinking about. Even if you expose your elementary grammar and spelling. You’ll get better as time proceeds.”

Consider this. Your twentieth blog post will be far better than your first. And that’s how it works. Your work becomes your practice in and of itself. The more you do, the more and better you become — simply because your work allows you to exist in multitudes of spaces as you get feedback you would not get if your website (or whatever else you want to pursue) stayed an idea in your head.

Let’s backtrack a little. Internalise this. Gmail, as it facilitated your e-mail conversations all these years, was in testing mode. It was essentially built while you used it. So was WhatsApp. It began with sending text as its biggest feature. Today, we send voice notes, documents, audio, locations and make calls (and their interface looks awesome!)

So, whatever you do, don’t wait any longer than you should.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” Author, Paulo Coelho, understood and captured this idea succinctly in his book, The Alchemist.

Start today.