“You’re gonna suck at it.”
It was a shock to hear such a blunt statement in regards to how he thought we would perform. But then, I realized that this is really good advice to consider any time that you take on a new experience.
When learning a new skill, we often feel so much pressure to do it well and so we proceed with a lot of anxiety. This anxiety makes us nervous and averse to failure, and as a result, we hesitate to start, if indeed we start at all. But I believe that if we were to say to ourselves, “I’m gonna suck at it,” right before we start, it will remove much of the aforementioned pressure and make us more willing to take on the new task.
“You’re gonna suck at it” = “You are probably going to make a few mistakes the first time”
The quote “You’re gonna suck at it” has the same intent as the quote “You are probably going to make a few mistakes the first time.” It aims to remind us that it is unlikely that you will do something perfectly the first time. Any new action requires a combination of conditions, abilities and variables for the result to be of high quality. To use the example of welding, to achieve a high quality weld requires precise control over the electrical arc, the materials to be in good physical condition and for the operator to be familiar with many of the things that could go wrong. It is virtually impossible for a first-time welder to possess all of these traits because they can only be acquired from experience. The more often one welds, the more he or she learns how to control the electrical arc. The more one welds, the more he or she learns about what could go wrong. The more that one is aware of what could go wrong, the more able he or she is to make amends.
“You’re gonna suck at it” > “You are probably going to make a few mistakes the first time”
For me, to say “You’re gonna suck at it” is a more effective motivator than to say “You are probably going to make a few mistakes the first time.” The former quote conveys the message in a clear and concise manner. The latter tries to suggest the failure is possible while leaving the recipient with a shred of hope. I believe that the recipient ought not to be left with any hope because, even if the hope is low in magnitude, he or she will inherently rely on it, get overconfident, have a high expectation and ultimately be let down when he or she fails. You might perceive this notion as negative or pessimistic, but I think it is realistic.
Not too long ago, I was given the task of tamping down dirt that had been backfilled into a ditch using a motorized tamping machine. I hesitated because I was unfamiliar with the device, how it worked, how to operate it and how one might be able to get injured while operating it. Someone demonstrated all of these things to me and then said, “Here. Now, you try it.” But I was still afraid. I hesitated. Then, I remembered this post’s title quote:
“You’re gonna suck at it.”
At that instant, nearly all of the resistance that I was feeling went away. Having become familiar with the device’s fundamentals, thanks to a peer, I assured myself that I was not going to use it perfectly on my first try. And then, I realized that that ought not to stop me from trying at all. All of that combined with the assurance that my experienced peers were going to watch over me and not let anything bad happen, I stepped up to the tamper, started it up and started to tamp down the dirt. How was it? Scary. But at least now I know what to expect. How was the quality of the backfilled dirt in the ditch after I tamped it? Not that great. But now that I am familiar with the device, I am able to control the outcome better and I know that I will do better next time.
Call to action.
Have you got any new experiences coming up? How do you feel about trying something new? When the time comes and you feel nervous about how you will perform the first time, simply say to yourself:
“I am gonna suck at it.”
I think that you will feel better and be less likely to hesitate.