You have to suck before you succeed


[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”100″ iframe=”true” /]Many of the business lessons I’ve learned of late have come from my experience as an amateur triathlete.  It is interesting having conversations with individuals who have watched my journey from the beginning up to my Ironman experience to date.  For many who have an interest in fitness I listen as they talk about the potential of them looking at triathlon as a sport and listening to what holds them back.  For most that I talk to the answer is the same.  The dreaded swim.  Most talk about how they have done some running in the past so that doesn’t intimidate them and cycling, well, cycling is easy.  But that swim? Man, I don’t know if I can do that.

If you have heard me talk about my decision to do my first triathlon at the behest of my 12 year old son, you will know that I had the same trepidation.  I couldn’t swim.  Well, like most, I had splashed around in pools and lakes for years and had done some kind of swimming lessons over the years as a child.  I justified my decision to do my first tri in that it was only a 300 m swim, and really,  how hard could that be?  Well, I realized after I committed to the race and set myself off to the first visit to the pool where I would actually do some lap swimming just how difficult it was!!  I quickly discovered that while I theoretically knew how to do the front crawl, it was an entirely different thing actually doing it.  I could barely swim 25 meters!  I was scared.  300 meters was starting to look like 100 miles!  Imagine my deflation when I first got in and realized that even a measly 25 meters was a substantial effort.  I was horrified.

So like any good tech savvy individual, I knew the answer lay somewhere within Google.  So I started doing some research and finally found, with the aid of a friend, a program that I thought might work.  You see the premise was to stretch your breathing just a little bit each time and not worry about form or technique but to get your lungs conditioned to consume the oxygen you needed.  Basically, just get the distance in any way you can and keep the rests short enough that you were not quite entirely recovered before starting the next lap.  If you are interested you can see the program I followed here.

Eventually I became comfortable with the breathing aspect and could then focus on technique.  In the short amount of time I had to prepare for the race I could comfortably (not quickly) swim the 300 meters required to complete the race.  From there I went on to get proper coaching on form and technique and am now a fairly strong swimmer.  The point of the story is this:

No one is born good at something.  You have to suck at it first and practice to become proficient.

So how does this relate to sales and business?  Well it is often fear of failure, or fear of not being able to do something well that holds us back from trying.  If you accept the statement above as true, and granted we are all born with differing natural abilities, and you accept that as a mindset, you will not be afraid to do the things you know are necessary for you to become a success.  You know that sucking at it is just part of the process.  Just a milestone along the path that you need to pass before you get to your destination.

I want you to think about something that you know you should be doing in your business that you are not currently doing.  Take a minute right now and think of it.  Better yet write it down.  For me it was cold calling.  You know, just picking up the phone and talking to people who I knew I needed to talk to to reach my objectives.  I’ll tell you it certainly made things easier for me when I embraced this mindset.  When I accepted the fact that I was going to suck at the first few calls and that this was simply part of the road I was going to have to travel on to get to my destination.  It made it so much easier to make those calls.  The way I look at it now is that the only thing between me and accomplishing my goals are making those calls.  The sooner I suck at the task the sooner I get good at it.  The sooner I get good at it, the sooner I can achieve my goals.  When I change my perspective and look at it that way it makes those first times when I am terrible that much easier to bear.

Visualize with me your goals or objectives.  Think of the end result.  Paint a vivid picture in your mind of what your current destination looks like.  Paint a mental picture of the path that leads you there.  Imagine the things that are currently standing in your way.  The things you know you should be doing to get you there that you are currently not doing.  Picture them as a flaming wall of fire between you and your destination.  Now picture yourself as Evel Knievel boldly riding your motorcycle through to reach your destination.  How does it feel when you reach the other side?  How does it feel knowing that you’ve passed that brief moment of fear and reached your goal by doing what you need to do to get there?

Embrace the idea that you will likely have to do the things you know you need to do poorly before you can do them well.  When you start with this mindset, that it is OK to suck at something, it makes it so much easier to step off the edge and make that leap.  What is holding you back from doing those things that you know you need to do?

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