Below is a transcript from this recording:
Hi guys, this is Tripp Lanier, I’m a men’s coach and I also host The New Man.
I want to tell you about somebody. Somebody I know, and I love, that sucks… At drawing, and writing, I mean she’s terrible. The faces she draws look like a nightmare, like somebody that’s been run over by a steamroller. Her letters? Her letters are okay, but they’re huge and wobbly. You’d think she was drunk when she wrote them. And now it wasn’t that long ago when this same person really sucked at walking and eating and pooping. She was falling down all the time, she had food all over her face, she was sitting around in her own feces, it was gross.
Is it Mean to Say That Kids Suck?
Now who am I talking about? I’m talking about my daughter Be. She’s four. Go ahead and groan, because it’s mean. It’s mean to say that about a little kid, right? It’s mean to be so judgmental and closed-minded. She’s just learning. She’s just figuring things out, right?
Well she’s young. We expect her to be right where she is. In fact, for her age, she’s doing some amazing things. She doesn’t think she sucks. She doesn’t care. She’s too busy having fun learning. She’s playing. She’s fully engaged in the learning process. She hasn’t yet developed her fear of failure.
Why So Many Guys Are Stuck
Now, when I talk to guys who are feeling stuck, it’s usually because they’ve stopped learning. I mean really learning. Not just hearing some new ideas on a podcast or in a book, I mean learning new ideas and then doing something with them in the world.
They don’t do that anymore. They’re looking at where they are, and where they wanna be, but they’re afraid of crossing that gap in the middle. And what’s that gap? It’s that awkward learning process. It’s that place where we suck at something. And these guys, the ones who are stuck, are stuck because they’re afraid to try something and then suck at it.
When we were young, it was okay to suck. But not anymore. Sucking is no longer an option. So as adults, we fear sucking. I know I do. I like to present myself as the guy who has it all together. My wife loves it when I embarrass myself or when I look foolish. She loves that crack in the armor. And you should hear her cackle. She has this cackling laugh, I usually don’t laugh with her.
If you’re like me, or if you’re like most other people, we would rather condemn ourselves or judge ourselves or hold back and play it safe than actually get in there and learn something and be goofy and suck at it in order to learn.
We’d Rather Stay Stuck Than Suck
As adults, we somehow think we’ve gotta have it all together. We’ve gotta have it all figured out by now. Where did this bullshit idea come from? Like, you graduated school. Does that mean you’ve finished learning? You’re just supposed to know everything from now on? If you didn’t learn it back then, when it was okay to be goofy and awkward, oh well! Wanna change careers? Too bad. You didn’t learn those skills back then.
Wanna learn how to approach women at a coffee shop? Too bad. You didn’t learn it as a young man. This idea that we’re done learning, and have to have it all figured out, is what keeps us playing small in life. And some guys will even go a step further and complain, and blame, and point fingers. Some believe they need to do some huge internal personal process, like discovering themselves or their passion, or forgive their father for whatever.
What if You Weren’t Afraid of Sucking?
And while some of that is useful for other things, when it comes down to actually moving forward, I think you’ve just gotta suck at something for a while. You just gotta grab that big, goofy crayon and start making some marks.
If you’re stuck, and feeling like options are limited, then ask yourself this: “If I wasn’t afraid of sucking at something,” meaning, “if I wasn’t afraid of what others might say, if I wasn’t afraid of making some mistakes, if I wasn’t afraid of seeing myself as a newbie, if I wasn’t afraid of losing some time, or money, or energy in service of learning something new, what options are available to me now?”
Wanna Get Ahead? Get Over Yourself
So, what’s the lesson that we could learn from a four-year-old? First, get over yourself. You used to sit in your own poop and fall down all the time, and I’m assuming, hopefully, that you don’t do those things anymore because you kept at it. Treat yourself like you would hopefully treat a little kid who was learning. Drop the expectation to be great, or even mildly good at something new.
Have fun. Follow your curiosity. Encourage yourself. Challenge yourself. Praise yourself. Go suck at something. Be goofy. Be willing to embarrass yourself a little bit. And you know what? You’ll get better. You’ll learn. You’ll grow. Just like you always have. And most importantly, you’ll stop living a small life, and enter a much, much bigger world. Chances are, you won’t even care that you suck. You’ll be too busy having fun.
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