A typical Australian idiom that underpins the Australian culture is “having a crack”! Not only do we Aussies tend to barrack for the underdog, we also give the benefit of the doubt when someone doesn’t win, doesn’t do something right or get the desired result, based on the notion that at least they attempted something and put in some effort.

Having a crack means to try something, to make an attempt.

As a child when I wasn’t sure of something Dad would always encourage me with a, “Go on girl, have a crack!” I do have a few scars from when having a crack didn’t go to plan but looking back on it now, it was worth the attempt because I received some mighty valuable lessons. I suspect my Dad’s encouragement has a lot to do with my tendency to say yes to most things and then wonder how I’m going to get it done or how to work it out.

Very few people can ride a bicycle first attempt, to get competent you need to first have a crack.

In 2004, very few people knew about Facebook let alone were proficient at using it. Now it’s a major platform for thousands of businesses: someone had to have a crack at some point in time. Even Mark Zuckerberg!

I was recently invited to speak to 130 Grade 10 boys at my Dad’s old school. Speaking to so many young people in a huge lecture theatre was a first for me; I was very nervous but I gave it a crack. During some Q and A, one student asked me what are the three characteristics of a great leader. I shared my first two and then put it back to the group for their thoughts. One student, who probably was just stirring up the boy who first posed the question, said, “have a crack”. I thought that made an excellent leadership characteristic.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, found that going from knowing nothing to being pretty good actually takes about 20 hours. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, noted that it took 10,000 hours: this number gets mis-used a lot and I firmly believe could easily scare anyone off from having crack. It’s important to know that the “10,000 hours to learn anything” is aligned to becoming an expert in an extremely competitive pursuit.

The 1997 movie, The Castle, was all about the main character Daryl, a fair dinkum Aussie battler, an underdog, believing in something and having a crack.

No spoiler alerts, for a comedy it is a delightfully empowering movie.

When it comes to you, what could you have a crack at? Here are some ideas that might help you be more productive:

  1. If you’ve not delegated before, delegate one task, or part of a task.


    2. If you’ve not given (specific and authentic) praise to a direct report or colleague before, give one person some specific (about their work) and authentic (really mean it) praise.


    3. If you don’t schedule your lunch break into your calendar and just steal a break whenever you can, schedule tomorrow’s lunch break into your calendar now.


    4. If you constantly complain, even to yourself, that you don’t spend enough quality time with your team, schedule a 10 min coffee meeting with one person this week. 


    5. If you don’t schedule your annual leave until everyone else has theirs sorted, schedule your annual 2020 leave now.

A love the lightness of having a crack. When Dad would say it to me it would feel as though it would be okay if it didn’t work, but you won’t know until you have a go.

So often we can get caught in a loop of wanting to be more productive, effective, healthier, etc., etc., yet it seems to never happen. You have to make it happen, so have a crack.

What will you have a crack at today?

The Castle – image source: Wikipedia
Malcolm Gladwell – image source: Great Performers Academy
The Personal MBA – image source: Josh Kaufnam