Trying New Things? It's OK To Suck.


Trying something new is always scary. You're worried about sucking at it, worried about looking foolish, and worried about what others might think. You're not going to hit a home run at your first at bat. That's ok. Trying something new isn't always easy and too often we get frustrated when the new is hard and doesn't come easy.

It takes time and consistent dedicated effort to develop proficiency. One of my earliest mentors explained that there are four stages one must travel through to become proficient.

Unconscious Incomptetence

This is the first stage, you've never attempted the new thing before so you don't know you suck at it. It's almost blissful ignorance.

Conscious Incompetence

This is the stage that trips most people up. Here you learn you're not that great at the new thing and, worst of all, you know it. If you've walked into this new experience thinking you'd master it in no time it may be a blow to your self esteem when you find out it's harder than it looks. 

Here you have two choices: 1) give up or 2) understand your weaknesses and work on them.

Conscious Competence

Now you're starting to feel good about yourself. You're getting better and you're seeing improvement and progress. A good comparison is when you're learning to drive and you're becoming more comfortable behind the wheel. You no longer stop short or take turns with the g-force of a rocket leaving earth's orbit. 

Unconscious Competence

Here's the stage of mastery. That new thing you sucked so bad at now comes as second nature. You've become proficient and really don't have to consciously focus on the task.

Once you reach this level of proficiency, you can take on another new thing. And when you do and you suck at it, remind yourself you used to suck at what you're great at now.

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