You don’t have to be perfect to start.
That’s right. You don’t need to have all the rules memorized. Yes, there are times when you must read perfect instructions and rules before any action is taken in order to follow the well-laid out proper steps in the quest of a solution to a problem.
In contrast, there are times where it might be better to just jump in blindly– with more than a little guts - with your heart clutched in your hands, and figure it out all on your own. That’s right. Sometimes you gotta think outside the box for the answer.
I know this sounds kind of odd coming from the author of a “How-To Genealogy Blog for Newbies,” but I’m just trying to be honest.
Don’t be afraid to just search. To put aside all the rule books. To relegate all those well-meaning internet articles and blog posts to the “Read Later” status. And just search. With all your heart and your mind.
For example, when you lost your car keys the first time, did you fall back on your Step-by-Step On How To Find Your Car Keys manual? No. You turned your house upside down and found $10 in change in your couch [Or sofa. Whatever you prefer.] Then found all those cool pens, some gum, and more change in the last purse you were using right before you frantically changed purses that morning. Then you tried to remember when you last had your keys and what you were doing at that moment. Then remembered you had gone to the grocery store and you had needed your car keys for that. Then remembered you had been carrying in the groceries. Then you remembered you’d bought Blue Bunny Bunny Tracks ice cream. [And could there be a worse name for an ice cream or any food product for that matter?] Then you remembered you hurried to carry that in first because it’s, like, a 100 degrees Farenheit outside and the last thing you wanted to do is leave Bunny Tracks all over your kitchen floor [Because no one else is gonna clean that up for you.]. Then you rushed to the freezer and quickly opened the door to find your car keys sitting on top of the Bunny Tracks ice cream. Problem solved.
And you didn’t need a manual for that, right? [Of course, if you had let the Bunny Tracks melt all over the floor, perhaps you could’ve found your keys faster. But, then, in that case, maybe you wouldn’t have had your keys in your hands because the phone rang as you walked in the door with the first load, and when you answered the phone you put your keys down there.]
However, that doesn’t mean that 5 years down the road while waiting in the germ-infested doctor’s office for your name to be called by that nurse [who looks like she’d like to be just about anywhere but here] that you didn’t sing all kinds of praises when you read that article entitled, 7 Top Ways To Find Things That You Continually Lose. Duh. Like, you’d have to be an idiot to not read that. Right? [Especially since you lose your car keys at least twice a day.]
And then you think, “If I had only known then what I know now about finding my car keys, I wouldn’t be constantly looking for my keys. In fact, if I had had this article to read and commit to memory, I SO wouldn’t have made so many mistakes along the way. So many mishaps. I could’ve done everything so perfectly. And, alas, been perfect.
I disagree with this. Sometimes. Especially when it comes to genealogy. When doing research, sometimes the method that you use in finding your answers to your solutions aren’t found in a how-to manual. Sometimes they’re found just because you figured it out on your own. [Yes. I’m likening lost car keys to lost ancestors.] When they are lost, you are determined to find them. You don’t give up. You rack your brain for where they might be. You trust yourself. You trust your abilities and your knowledge that you’ve acquired along life’s highway to find them. And you probably learn some new lessons along the way.
And I daresay they are, sometimes, the most memorable lessons. The ones you won’t forget. And, sometimes, they leave you a little more satisfied. A little more, oh, I dunno, richer, for figuring it all out on your own. [You know, more than $10 in change, some gum, and some cool pens richer?]
Sure. Reading the how-to’s, rules, and other people’s lessons will help you and are necessary in long-term success in your research journey.
But don’t let them make you think can’t begin to look just because you haven't memorized all the how-to's. You don’t have to be perfect to start.
6/29/2011 09:29:41 am
I agree. If you wait on perfection you'll never get started and you really don't know what you need to learn until you figure out what you don't know. I say dive in!
6/29/2011 10:08:32 am
I subscribed and lost my comment (I think). I said you were funny and that I love how helpful the professional genealogists can be but they always manage to teach more than do! Great post.
6/29/2011 12:45:15 pm
Yes, yes and yes! I have a large, read it later pile, that I slowly go through but I've stopped beating myself up about it and just search any old way I can think of!
6/29/2011 02:56:06 pm
I'm so glad y'all both agree! I know when I'm learning something new, I do better with a little beginning instruction and then plunking myself smack dab in the middle and just plain trying.
6/29/2011 03:05:49 pm
Jenna, my hub asked me tonight when I was gonna clean up my office. [Snort.]
6/30/2011 04:17:21 am
Heck, after 10 years I've still got a lot to learn so if I'd waited, I might not be started yet.
6/30/2011 04:50:49 am
I love your article! This is how we approach all of life. We don't read the manual and talk to the experts before we start living it. We get up each day and get through it, and learn along the way. It's the same with riding a bike, cooking, paying bills, raising a family, research our family history. We dive in, do our best and learn more as we go. By the time we have it all figured out, it's OVER!
6/30/2011 05:23:41 am
I am so glad I stopped long enough to read. I don't feel alone anylonger.
6/30/2011 07:24:59 am
Agreed, Linda & Becky! Besides, jumping in is SO much more fun. Bigger splashes.
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