In a recent New York Times article, journalist Karen Rinaldi ruminated on the benefits of sucking at things:
“The notion of sucking at something flies in the face of the overhyped notion of perfectionism. The lie of perfectionism goes something like this: “If I fail, it’s only because I seek perfection.” Or “I can never finish anything because I’m a perfectionist.” Since the perfectionist will settle for nothing less, she is left with nothing…
“By taking off the pressure of having to excel at or master an activity, we allow ourselves to live in the moment.”
When I read this article (thanks for the heads up, Clare!) I basically fist-pumped myself with joy, because there is so much in this idea that I think we need to embrace. Not only that it’s OK to not be a world-beater in everything (or anything) we do, but also the idea that if we let go of our need to do something like a boss we actually free ourselves up to enjoy the hell out of the thing we’re doing, regardless of performance.
This is me when I snowboard. I’m fairly middling, will never be much more than that and that’s OK. The interesting thing is that once I stopped worrying about my ability and stopped comparing myself unfavourably to the ballers who would rip past me at the top of every run, I began enjoying it a whole lot more. Now I focus on the fact that I’m on a mountain. I’m sliding down that mountain on a piece of wood. I’m having fun doing it. The wind is whistling in my ears and the sun is on my back and I’m outside and breathing cold air and I’M ALIVE. That’s the important part of it for me. The doing, the playing, the being. Not the striving or the lamentation.
In this poggie Ben and I unpack this idea of sucking, and why there is so much to gain by being bad at things. We also talk about meditation and why, like I discussed with Sarah Wilson recently, it’s actually incredibly beneficial to not be good at it. And we also talk about the joy and delight that lies in allowing ourselves to be beginners, forever learning.
This is a really fun episode that doesn’t have a specific action to take away, but rather a question for you to think on over the next few days. What’s something you enjoy doing simply for the fun of it? And how can you learn to embrace the power of sucking at it?
Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!