Everybody sucks when they start

I am not afraid to say that I have more hobbies and interests than is probably considered normal. I love the idea of learning and applying a new set of skills. I love the idea of starting with a blank slate and learning how to do something that I previously couldn’t.
As a result I have learned one very clear lesson. When you start with anything new, you are unlikely to be very good at it.

When you start to learn any skill, from playing an instrument to running a new business, you start with the same knowledge and experience that everyone does. None. It is through the practice and experience that comes over time that we all improve.

Even those that are considered to be the best in their given field practice constantly. Basketball great Michael Jordan was (and still is) well known for delivering as much in training than in a game. This is because to be the best in anything, you need to get the technique and mental state right first. Being successful is a result of these fundamentals. Unless you get yourself in the right zone, time after time, you will fall short.
Top level sport teams compete professionally – it is their full time job! Although there is a level of natural talent, there is still one very real difference between a professional sport team and an amateur one. Professional athletes live and breathe their sport all day, every day.
It is hardly reasonable to compare someone who might pick up a tennis racquet on the weekend and Roger Federer. One is paying to do something because they enjoy it, the other is paid to do little else.

There is one thing that is completely the same though. That is that at some point, they were both terrible at it. At some point they both could hardly hold the racquet and when they did hit the ball it barely made it over the net.
It is true that for Federer that was probably at some time in his childhood – but that it also a good point. When we are young, we generally care much less about succeeding!
When a baby is learning to walk they don’t feel self-conscious about falling. An infant doesn’t care that they can’t pronounce words correctly. They just accept that that there is a learning curve and they still have room to improve. When they fail, they look at the lesson that they can learn and change their approach.

As adults though it is possible for so much of our lives to be ruled by fear. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of loss. Unfortunately it is this fear that prevents many from reaching their potential.
People don’t want to look silly so they don’t push themselves to learn new skills. They don’t want to lose what they have so they don’t pursue their dreams or goals.
What many fail to see though is that they are often the only one that really cares. Not in a sad ‘the world doesn’t care about you’ kind of way but more that everyone has their own things to deal with. It is a reality of the modern world that most people are so busy with their own stuff that they just don’t have the time to care about the failures of others. It is generally a person’s fear of their own judgement that holds them back.

In a Podcast interview with drum teacher Mike Johnston, he presented a great perspective that really stuck with me. In any skill, people are not necessarily better or worse than each other. Some people are just further along the timeline of their journey.

Unfortunately in our current time of instant communication and rapid feedback, people expect to be great at things immediately. We are all so busy and often overloaded with information and distraction. Because we are so worried about what we might miss out on, many are not prepared to put in the time up front that is necessary to work through the start-up.
This actually presents an opportunity for anyone this is willing to work through the hard times. If you are prepared to accept that you won’t be good until you have learned how, it is a chance to succeed where others have quit!

Photo by notnyt

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