Before You Get Good At Anything, You Are Going To Suck At It For A Long Time

I was talking to someone recently who needs to meet politicians and politicos for work.  I mentioned to her that a meeting that was coming up called the Central Florida delegation.  It happens once a year.  These are the dozen or so state representatives who represent Central Florida at the state level.  The public addresses the legislators about the community’s priorities.  I told her that I’d be at the meeting and would be happy to sit with her and introduce her to people.

She said, “I want to learn a little bit more about politics before I go to the meeting.”  I suggested that she would learn it by going to the meeting.

I had a similar situation talking to an agent who didn’t want to make phone calls because she didn’t know what to say.  I suggested that she just follow a certain script as a starting point.  She didn’t want to do that because she thought she’d sound stupid.  I suggested that she would learn a lot just by making the calls.

I had a recent student who didn’t want to do practice math questions during class because she knew she would get them wrong.  So rather than try, she just gave up.  In her mind, this was a more effective strategy than struggling through the problem.

I’ve found that no matter what you do – whether it is learning how to make cold calls, learning about public policy, or learning to play the piano – there is only one way to get good at it.  You have to suck at it a lot to start.

I was not a fabulous teacher when I taught my first class.  I don’t think I was horrible, but I’m sure I made a lot of rookie mistakes.  Same with my first sales presentation.  Same with the first time I addressed politicians at a public meeting.  Same when I was learning real estate math.  But today, I can hold my own in any of those situations.

If you want to get good at anything, you are going to suck a lot at the beginning.  The people who succeed are the ones who are willing to show up, mess up a lot, and work at getting better.