Learn to 'suck', at first
Updated: Feb 22
I've been reflecting a lot on performance recently, in the realms of both personal and professional development, and have come to the realisation that I've learnt a lot of lessons the hard way. This isn't necessarily a problem, but over the years, it has taught me to embrace the brunt of not being very good at all the things I really want to be great at (especially in the beginning). Whether it's because I always throw myself at the deep end, because my learning curves are usually incredibly steep, or even because I am more than happy to push the limits of what is possible for me, the initial stages (which can take from a few weeks to even a few years) of whatever new challenge I embark on, has required a lot of self-compassion, grit and the cultivation of inner certainty that however I am performing in the present moment has no impact over future performance.
People thrive when they offer value to others around them. Whether in the context of friendships, intimate relationships, in a sports team, at work or even across one's community, I believe that human beings love being useful and derive great satisfaction from being recognised, acknowledged, and appreciated in whatever role they play. While external recognition is crucial, internal recognition (from you to you) is just as important and when you're embarking on a new challenge, it takes a lot of awareness and self-compassion to recognise yourself in whatever you do, even when you're not as great as you want to be.
It's easy to start worrying about your performance, how good you are, how good you want to be and what others think of you. It's easy to judge yourself, to feel negative emotions about the value you're creating, to worry about what the future holds, and to quickly find yourself in a spiral that doesn't get better with time.
This post is intended to raise awareness about a different kind of skill: learning to 'suck' at first. While it may sound counterintuitive to be okay with not being very good at something, it is important to understand the inevitability of steep learning curves when we pursue big goals, work towards jumping tall hurdles and when we choose to face our fears by doing what others may think impossible. The paradox is that you have to become very comfortable with incredibly uncomfortable situations in order to climb the ladder of greatness. To be great you have to:
1. Do your best
2. Understand that you are likely to 'suck' at first
3. Nurture your belief that you will become better by staying focused and applying the skills you pick-up
This process is going to actually contribute to you becoming better at what you do, as opposed to feeling guilt, or unworthiness.
Whatever the situation, you have to embrace it, recognise the importance of nurturing yourself through it, and don't allow the present moment to affect the future. Just because you're not doing really well today, doesn't mean you can't be great in a month.