In my years of life and creativity coaching, I’ve witnessed one of the biggest barriers to achievement comes when a person confesses they want to do something but don’t know how to do it, are nervous about asking for help and might not even know who to ask or how to ask how to do whatever that “thing” is.
The second barrier is often… an unwillingness to be a beginner or get a part of what they want to do wrong. The results become IT rather than the experience.
The natural question to ask oneself then, on a scale of one to ten, how willing are you to be bad at something you have a strong desire to try? Can you be passionate and detached at the same time?
When I was in middle school, there was a required gymnastics portion of our gym class. I was excited to try the parallel bars but I knew it might be something I couldn’t do very well. I waited until the very end of class and my patient and probably insightful PE teacher offered to help me when all the other girls went into the locker room.
I wasn’t good on that first attempt.
I never tried again.
Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Understanding Creativity – A Journey Through Art, Science and the Soul” Matt Richtel writes of a shift that happens starting in the fourth grade when we internalize rule following and peer pressure that doesn’t allow us to try new things, to experiment. It is like setting aside our creative muscle like I set aside my gymnastic muscle for fear of looking even less athletic in front of my peers than I already did.
I wasn’t willing to be bad or worse than I already was at any aspect of gymnastics. This from a kid who two years earlier had spent an entire Saturday mastering the monkey bars at the neighborhood park. Between those two years, I stopped being willing to be bad and work through being bad to be better. Not great, but better.
How willing are you to be bad at something you really want to “get right”?
How willing are you to be bad at something publicly?
This week, take some time to consider what you are willing to do badly in order to get better.
What small experiments might you try to begin to flex that needlepoint, cardio, writing, painting, dancing, French speaking self? What passion is your heart calling you to bring to life with passion and yes, detached from the outcome.
This first step isn’t making a declaration of what passion you want to explore, it is about considering, reflecting and opening up the treasure chest you haven’t been willing to explore… yet.
Julie JordanScott is a Creative Life Coach, an award-winning storyteller, actor and poet whose photos and mixed media art graces the walls of collectors across the United States. Her writing has appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers List, the Amazon best sellers list and on American Greetings Holiday cards (and other greeting cards). She currently lives in a manse in Sussex, NJ, where she is working on finishing her most recent book project, hugging trees daily and enjoys having random inspirational conversations with strangers.
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Florence Callender says
You know, Julie, your question is so pertinent today, in this cancel culture. This year, I’ve been intentionally feeling the fear and doing what I must do to move forward in life and business. Thanks for your encouraging words.
Kebba Buckley Button says
Julie, my whole current life is an exercise is making my way despite what should terrify me. A year ago, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer, had surgery, started chemo…and in those several weeks, my husband passed away. This load of challenges should have knocked me flat, but I keep picking myself up and moving forward, into my new life. And June 28 I had my last chemo! Thanks for raising some valuable points!
A couple of years ago I took up the challenge to add video capability to the audio technology of our church. The end game was to provide an online service for worshipers. I had to select, purchase and learn new hardware and how to live stream to YouTube. Week by week new capabilities were added to the point where it now requires a team of people and a day of preparation to make it all happen.
In German we have a saying “es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen”, meaning all beginnings are hard, and no one was born a master.
Your post made me think of my son wanting to play ice hockey so badly – however he couldn’t skate, and he was reluctant to learn. His first sessions on the ice were so hard. All the other kids had better skills, and he was over there, stalking and falling over and over. His desire must have been so strong, because he kept trying.
Practice makes perfect.