How to Suck at Anything

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about being terrible at things. I thought I would make a fool of myself. I thought I would be embarrassed. More than anything, I thought I would fail.

The truth is, all of those things usually happened when I tried to do anything that I wanted to do.

I looked pretty ridiculous, I was embarrassed, and I failed. A lot.

When I first started this blog some of my writing was pretty scary. But that’s what happens when you start anything.

You suck.

And that’s great. Sucking is absolutely necessary. There’s no way around it. In order to get better at anything, at some point or another you’re going to have to suck. That’s just the way it is.

So, here’s the secret to sucking at anything.

Start.

There’s also a secret to never failing and never being criticized.

Don’t do anything. Ever.

The only way to avoid criticism, avoid looking like a fool and failing is to not do anything at all. And if that’s okay with you, fine. But I don’t see any point in living if that’s the case.

When it comes down to it, if you ever want to get good at anything, at some point you’re going to have to suck.

I’d rather be terribly horrible at everything that I do, than do nothing at all. At least that way I know that I tried. I’ll know that I lived and I didn’t just exist.

There’s a secret I’ve learned, though. If you embrace that you suck, it loses its power over you.

So, stop wasting time reading this. Go find something to suck at.

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56 Comments on "How to Suck at Anything"

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Samir
Guest

GREAT POST!!! I have been struggling with starting my own blog and your post just inspired me!!!

Thanks!

Travis | iStorm Training
Guest

Great post Jonathan!

I think so many of us want to be perfect and do the right the first time.

Having a beginner’s mind is an ideal approach to take towards learning anything new. Being a beginner comes before being an expert at something.

Jen
Guest

Great reminder! I am really proud of how my blog is coming along but am sure one day I will be a better writer than I am now. I read somewhere at the beginning of this venture (I think it was a Steve Pavlina quote) that you will only get good at something by practising and keep doing it … so that’s my plan!

Steven | The Emotion Machine
Guest

Awesomely inspirational. Sucking has never seen so tempting before…had to tweet this!

Steven | The Emotion Machine
Guest

Also uploaded this to reddit! Really liked this one…

Chris Pund
Guest

Good post and topic Jonathan! Just taking that leap and doing something is the only way to see if you really could be good at something. Everybody has to start somewhere!

Ficc
Guest
After reading this, a few questions arise: – Why do you or me or anybody should care about what others think about you, me or anybody? – How do you define “suck at something”? After all, what is being terrible at doing something? For example, one of my hobbies is painting. I started painting a few years ago, my paintings have improved over time, however “according” to art critiques, they are no more than child’s paintings when compared to a Chagal or a Picasso. But that, is their opinion, and I honestly don’t give a crap about what others think.… Read more »
Ideas With A Kick
Guest

Jonathan,

This post reinforces my theory that short posts are the most powerful. It’s quite inspirational.

I think we as humans take failure to seriously. So instead of acting, we wait and wait and wait. It’s essential that we learn to be less serious about this stuff.

Eduard

Jon | Adventures of the Fearless
Guest

You got it Jonathan

The secret to getting ahead is to get started

Adjust along the way

Mosotomoss
Guest

Hey. Jonathan. Interesting Post. We always tell our clients, you will never know what you can do until you do it! Just be in the presence of learning and receiving.

James NomadRip
Guest

I’d leave a comment, but I have far too many other things to suck at. I am going to go do those things instead.

And thanks for the reminder.

Myowngenjutsu
Guest

Excelent!

Oscar - freestyle mind
Guest

Actually I know a few people who prefer to suck at anything. I don’t know why precisely, although I guess it’s laziness. I think I’ll go with your last advice now ;)

Mike Turitzin
Guest
Great post. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that getting over one’s fear of failure and embarrassment is a prerequisite to living an interesting and worthwhile life. Why is it so unpleasant to suck? Because it’s embarrassing. We tend to stick to the things we’re good at for fear that we’ll embarrass ourselves if we venture into new areas. The good news about embarrassment is that it’s entirely in our own control. Don’t want to feel embarrassed? Then don’t. Failure and ineptitude are only embarrassing if you think they are. And why should you? Both are extremely powerful… Read more »
Hugh
Guest

Wow, this title sure got my attention! I am just starting out blogging and I know I’m not great yet, but I hope I don’t suck! haha You’re right, I can already see myself getting a little better at writing. As soon as I began reading this post, one of my fave quotes came to mind:

“Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.” – Samuel Beckett

Steve
Guest

The fear of failure is a big hurdle to overcome.

I’ve decided my goal for 2010 is to produce one new thing every month for the whole year. A web app, an ebook, a plugin, whatever – one new thing each month and I’ll release it before the month’s out not matter what state it’s in.

The fear of failure and the quest for perfection has stopped me releasing a ton of stuff in the past. So now I’m just going for it and now worrying about how much it’s gonna suck.

I’ve already done January’s: http://www.steveify.com/uncategorized/themeperpost-wordpress-plugin-released/

Cheers,
Steve.

Michael M
Guest

Jonathan, sometimes you suck :)

curiousjessica
Guest

Great advice, Jonathan. Its fear of sucking that paralyses us and stops us from achieving greatness. Im going to suck at at least one thing today!

Tomas Stonkus
Guest

I suck at public speaking!

I found that out yesterday! I gave my first speech at Toastmasters and after I was done I wanted more!

Still feeling that you can improve and knowing how to do that is a great feeling! I know I suck now, but if I continue practicing then I will do better and better and better until I don’t suck.

That’s the point of failure, it just identifies the areas in which you need to improve on! Once you understand that, you almost start to seek failure!

I can’t imagine life without failing!

Best,
Tomas

kelly
Guest

I am afraid of failing so I NEVER step out and try anything really — never complete anything really. Now I find out I am supposed to suck at it ….. well that’s a new perspective that I really should have figured out myself. AWESOME post

Christiaanh
Guest

Ah yes, the ever popular faceplant. The perfect way to learn how to do something is to suck at it for a long long time, finding all the ways not to do it, untill you find a way that works.

It’s the essential in learning, embrace the suck and go for it

A great post again Jonathan, short, not to short… make your point and get out again. Nice!

Oleg Mokhov
Guest

Hey Jonathan,

Fail often to succeed faster.

People often confuse failure as the opposite of success. No, failure is just finding out what doesn’t work. We all suck and fail at first. So find what doesn’t work faster by trying and doing more. The quicker you find what doesn’t work, the faster you hone in on what does and succeed.

Here’s to sucking to success (not the porn kind, unless that’s someone’s goal),
Oleg

Tess The Bold Life
Guest

I’m speaking professionally tomorrow after a two year absence. I’m going to give myself permission to suck. After all I’ve decided to begin again:)

Fabian
Guest

Oh man, I suck at commenting, but I’ll give it a try anything.

Mark Dowdell
Guest

Hahaha!

This is the wittiest and most striking post I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole way through. I love to suck at stuff. I’ve always wondered what people’s problem is with me trying out things that I’m not good at. I guess they just suck at sucking.

Thanks for this short gem, Jonathan.

Aaron
Guest

This was so timely for me personally. I appreciate your words.

Jeb
Guest
The best part in the process of sucking is the learning. I’ve gone a number of different directions w/ my blog because once I start going down a certain road, I find certain things I wasn’t expecting. So I change course a bit. Then do it again. And again. That inconsistency is kinda suckish if you just look at that, but at some point, it’ll lead me where I want to be. True in the real (non-internet) world too. I’ve skateboarded all my life, but never hit up a skate park…until yesterday. I’d been taking my boys and supporting their… Read more »
Sibyl - alternaview
Guest

Great post. We all need our own license to suck. It is such a good point and really does provide you with the confirmation that it is okay to live and learn. Sometimes you really do just have to put yourself out there and having a license to suck allows us to give anything we really want a shot. Really great and inspirational post.

Meg at Demanding Joy
Guest

Thank you for a fantastic post. I think of the things I never did out of fear of sucking. The irony is that no one cares whether or not I suck because they’re too busy worrying about their own suckitude. Thanks to you, I’m making a list of those things and I’m going to do them! Tap dancing, here I come. Thanks!

Harry
Guest

Rockin post. I’m building my blog now and glad to know I’m sucking pretty bad!

It’s like playing darts. You have to throw it the first time…and chances are you’re going to miss. The whole dart board! Extreme suckdom(if that’s a word). But it is that throw that will give you the information to make adjustments for your next throw. And soon enough you’ll be finding your way towards the bullseye.

Like this blog for example. Consistent bullseyes, post after post!

bloominglater
Guest

so good to know since i am going through a period of mass suckage. can’t find my direction – but i shall suck on…i mean…trod on.

thanks for it!

~bloom

Audrey Cherwin
Guest

Yeah, I suck at sucking, but after reading this great post and comments I’ve decided to suck at some new things and LIKE IT a lot more. Love it…

Francis
Guest

Love this post (especially the title!!)

Too many people are afraid of failing and sucking, that’s why they don’t even try. Pity.

Laura
Guest

You suck man….
Loving u

Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com
Guest

Nice, short and to the point. When you start at anything you are gonna be terrible. Show me the leader in any field and that person was terrible at some point. Great post.

nudgeme
Guest

Loved this post Jonathan, really resonated with me as the ‘perfectionist procrastinater’ I can be …!! Giving yourself permission to suck at anything is such a good message and, as you say, definitely preferable to doing nothing …. and anyway what one person might view as sucking at something, another will think is doing well, so it’s a nudge to do your own thing and worry less about what people think.

All the best

Tamsin@nudgeme

HappySadThoughts
Guest

I just took the initiative at work and made a fool of myself. Which prompted the decision to never stick out my head again at work – I will last longer this way. But that’s so not me, I am much more alive than that. So thank you for the inspiration, now let me go and find something else to suck at, at least there will be more stories to tell to my future grandchildren.

Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion
Guest

This post was perfect for me today Jonathan, as I was debating ‘to suck or not to suck’…..so looks like I’ll get back to the grind and keep sucking…..You’re great man, thanks for your work. :)

jforest
Guest

Haha, this is the best advice ever! I love it. I’m out there sucking at photography as we speak! GO ME!

Sam Cox
Guest

The best motivational post — ever!

trackback

???? ??…

Go find something to suck at….

Christoph Dollis
Guest

Just the first 2 paragraphs of your post made me laugh and smile.

Too right!

I said to myself, “I love this guy,” spontaneously. What I mean, of course, is that I think about it the same way, when I think of it consciously.

I could use more doing.

Dr. Jennifer Howard
Guest

Yes, thank you. We must be willing to fail if we are ever to succeed. Being bad at something is a start and we can go up from there. If your heart longs to do something, try it, learn it and enjoy it as best you can.

Dr. Jennifer Howard
http://www.drjenniferhoward.com/free-gift.asp

Kelly
Guest

This is a wonderfully written post Jonathan. Thanks so much for sharing it! And it is definitely true. When you embrace the fact that you may or may not fail the power of uncertainty loses it’s hold on you. Thanks for sharing you are a wonderful writer!

S.Smith
Guest

Suck at things and be wrong. Both are fun in the long run, not so comfortable in the short run.

Nea | Self Improvement Saga
Guest

I like it…. never be afraid to suck at anything.

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[…] the one hand, a dilettante knows very well that he will suck at anything when he’s just starting out. On the other hand, even ultimate failure in one field won’t be the […]

Katie West/The Levity Coach
Guest
Jonathan As usual….Brilliance. When I was in my early 20s I would have “Katie suck days” and I would declare that doe that day everything might very well suck and I was quite okay with it and did not feel the need to change it. It was liberating for me– But what I felt was that it is okay for life to be messy. Perfection is not what life is about. It is about diving in, getting dirty, and living it. And well of course now, I just laugh when I feel like I suck. It is the best trick… Read more »
M
Guest

Amazing!

Number one reason I hate to golf: I’m horrible at it.
I’m horrible because I don’t practice, and I don’t practice because I’m horrible.
Maybe next summer, I’ll make a resolution to embrace the horrible-ness and stick it out.

Thanks!

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