Why Sucking at Something is Vital for Your Success

What do you do when it seems like the universe is saying no to your dreams?

If you’re anything like me you shrink, stop, run and hide. Why do we think that our biggest dreams should happen in an instant?

We read too much into failure. We give too much credence to Instagram likes, page follows and claps. We hear the radio silence of the world at large to be a resounding “NO” on behalf of the internet.

Yet, anything worth doing takes time.

Anything worth doing will make you doubt, fear, and feel embarrassed. Sometimes all three at the same.

I’m in the middle of shifting my business. It is painful and scary, mostly because it seems like there is just so much competition and I’m doubting my ability to stand out, to create something sustainable and successful.

Put simply, it sucks.

I feel like I’m desperately trying to ride a wave, but I’m using an ironing board as my surf board: it’s heavy, it’s clunky and I will most certainly drown.

Those are my fears.

And yet, there is something inside me that is longing to expand and express itself authentically in the world.

Surely there is an audience for that? Surely there are others who need a push to do just that?

And so, I set out with my overwhelm, doubt and fears as my companions. When I am tired, I practice laying them down.

Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

How to Harness Fear for Success

1. Get in your body: When I’m afraid, I’m living in my head. Sure, there are physical manifestations for fear, but mostly, I’m freaking out in my head. So, when I’m feeling afraid, overwhelmed, doubtful, I practice the following:

I take a few deep breaths.

I take a few more.

I imagine my fear, doubts, what have you as a weighted life preserver placed around my middle.

I let my body get really heavy with this feeling.

Then I visualize the weight falling away each time I breathe out.

I visualize my body getting lighter and lighter.


2. Get your head straight: Journaling is my go-to when I need to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with myself. I like to write stream of consciousness most of the time, but in times of crisis when my doubts appear to be winning the war over my self esteem, I like to explore some key questions:

What am I most afraid of?

What happens if that comes true?

If the worst happens, will I survive?

What would I do differently?

Is there something I could do right now to feel better?


3. Give yourself a pep talk: There’s a reason mantras are popular in self-help, because they work. A mantra is a fancy word that means “sound tool” which we’re going to use to fix the negative nature of your thoughts. An easy way to create a mantra unique to your fears is to get clear on what you’re afraid of and flip the script.

For example: I’m afraid I’m not going to be a successful writer


I am a writer with growing success


I am a successful writer making a living from my books, blogs, insert appropriate medium here

Once you’ve got your mantra, repeat that sucker as needed, throughout the day: write it down, sing it, or rap it, but repeat it until that thought comes just as naturally as your negative one.


4. Get Help: Sometimes, when you’re embarking on a dream, we are so focused on the end goal, our vision blurs on the actual steps we need to take to get there. This is where having a mentor can help us break down where we want to do into an actionable map.


5. Go gentle with yourself: It takes a lot of vulnerability to make a change. Go gentle with yourself. It seems easy to beat ourselves up when we don’t have immediate success or even when we may suck at the very thing we want to succeed at.

Yet, sucking at something is the very point of being a beginner.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

— Michael Jordan

It is only by allowing ourselves to truly suck at something, by beginning at the very bottom, will we be able to gather the necessary tension (education, support, money) to catapult us to success.


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