Imagine that I am writing out a permission slip for you. It looks just the like ones from your school days except instead of your teacher’s neat penmanship, it’s my lazy hieroglyphics-looking scrawl.
It says, I, Sami Gardner give you the permission to suck at stuff.
Now fold up that piece of paper and put it in your pocket to save for a rainy day.
Why did I give you an imaginary permission slip?
Because if you are like many of my clients, you’re smart and probably pretty good at most of the things that you try.
You didn’t have to try that hard in school and got good grades anyway. At work, you are one of the quicker ones on the uptake. Even with hobbies and crafts, you get the hang of it without much of a struggle. You have fully embraced the idea of leaning in.
That is fantastic… except for when you actually have to try.
And that scares the HELL-o Kitty out of many high achievers even if they don’t admit it.
Job hunts, career change, and intentional designing your career and business are pursuits where you will always be on the failure-success roller coaster.
I have had so many clients where they subconsciously have this idea that if the job isn’t perfect then it’s not done. Or if they can’t do it perfectly then they shouldn’t do it at all.
FYI, perfection is a subjective illusion. Some people think that Hamlet is perfect, other people think that Twilight is perfect. Takes all kinds in this world, pal.
This focus on perfect and being good at something in one go is the most limiting of beliefs because it ignores a basic reality.
You have to push past the ‘I suck at this’ stage to get good at something. That learning curve can be longer than you want. Not everything will be a snap to understand and then do.
There are so many inspirational memes, embroidered pillows, and wall hangings that talk about how delightful going outside your comfort zone is. Dance outside your comfort zone, girlfriend!
Let’s be real, it can feel like you are dancing on nails out there.
Outside your comfort zone can be scary, awkward, annoying, frustrating, and embarrassing. It can be exhilarating but it can also make you want to run back to your comfort zone where it is soft, cozy, and familiar.
I have had to jump out of my comfort zone today. I sent off a piece of fiction to a beta reader and I feel like hyperventilating into a bag in between sips of wine. The running monologue in my head going along the lines of ‘oh, god, what if they hate it? What if it sucks? What if I suck? Waughugh.’
That last bit is just the sound I make in my head when I am nervous.
And in September I am going to take a running leap out of my comfort zone because I am going to France next month for a writing retreat. Even beyond the idea that other people will read my stuff (‘Waughugh’), I am terrified because I know that I am in for a lot of socially awkward moments due to the fact that languages are my kryptonite. My French is nonexistent.
I don’t even speak English well at times.
You know what, I will definitely suck at both French and writing at times. I am new to both. So, it’s to be expected.
I can’t get better at either unless I go through the sucking phase. I always probably will sacre blow at French too.
Yet we can’t get more comfortable with new activities, cultures, or subjects unless we give it a go!
The biggest reason for this isn’t because we are skill-building… its because we actually see how it is and how it was easier than what we built it up in our mind.
Humans are natural drama queens especially if we are smart and imaginative because we hyper analyze our situations. We don’t just make a mountain, we make the Himalayas out of molehills. Once you finally just do a thing, we take the mystery and inject reality into the situation which usually is that we didn’t suck that bad and if we did then no one really noticed.
The truth about the world is that most people are too focused on themselves to pay much attention to you. The rest of us are too busy navel-gazing or didn’t realize that you have even made a mistake whether it is with a UX Case Study or a hula hoop trick.
You’re the one who is hyper-aware of your faults.
Life is liberating once you understand that one fact.
So get outside of your comfort zone and as RuPaul says, prance my queens!