How To Not Suck At Everything

The following guest post is from Neal Frankle of Wealth Pilgrim. Wealth Pilgrim is on my short list of daily reads. After reading the post, head over to Neal’s site and sign up to receive his posts.

You probably don’t suck at anything….but your mind tells you that you do.

I just finished reading Adam Baker’s great post on How To Not Suck at Blogging.  Besides being a great read, it inspired me.

Just as Adam laid down some rules any blogger can use to “not suck” at blogging, I believe there are certain tools you can use to have a “suck free” experience while you are here on this planet – even if you aren’t a blogger.

The first and most important rule is this:

1.  You Only Suck If You Tell Yourself You Suck

Be honest.  Besides your teenage kids, when is the last time anyone said to you, “You suck”?   Unless you are still in high school or are a full-time Hells Angel, my guess is, it’s been a very long time.

In fact, I’ll bet the last person who told you this…was you.  Am I right?

For some terrible reason we are very proficient at treating ourselves worse than our worst enemy would – if we had an enemy (which we probably don’t).

I don’t know where this comes from and I don’t give a damn anymore.  I am officially declaring war on attacking anyone from here on…so Neal won’t be attacking Neal anymore.

Your Solution:

If you find yourself attacking yourself with negative crap talk, write down 5 reasons why you love yourself and then call somebody and tell them.  Be brave.  I know this is a hard thing to do but I will absolutely guarantee that the negative thoughts will stop if you take this action.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Anyone

My dad always told me that the only thing that really matters in life is trying your hardest.  If you do that, you are successful.

This makes sense.  If I’ve tried my hardest, what more can I do?

So why is it that I compare myself to others despite already having put in my best efforts?  I’m sick of it.  I’m declaring war on that too.

By any objective measurement, there is no part of my life that sucks.

  • I have the family that I literally dreamed of having when I was a kid.
  • I have a fine business that serves great people and provides for my family.
  • I have time to write my blog and I’ve received some nice responses to what I write.
  • I am healthy.
  • I get to play music with some very cool people.

What sucks about that?  Nothing.

Yet I’ve barraged myself with negative self-talk for years on almost all the blessings I have.  And of course the easiest way to hurt myself is to compare myself to others.

Let me give you a few examples;

When I compare myself to other business owners, I ask myself why I’m not doing as well as some other friends in my industry.  Rather than be grateful for still having a profitable business, I find a way to put myself down by comparing myself to others.

In terms of my body, I’m not obese but I’d like to lose about 20 pounds.  Rather than be thankful for the problems I have, I compare myself to the Brad Pitts of the world and lament my bad fortune.

Music. I am not an accomplished musician but I play well and get to play with some great musicians.  They keep calling me back so I must be doing something right.  Yet when I listen to the radio and hear kids half my age doing things on the drums that I can’t even understand, I tell myself that I have no talent.  Why?    In college, I even stopped playing for 10 years because when I got there, I met players who were so much better than I was.  What a shame and waste.

Am I the only person who does this?  Nope.

I’ll never forget the time I spent an hour with a super rich and successful buddy of mine. Believe it or not, this cat makes over $1 million a month!  Do you think he’s happy about it?

He isn’t.  He told me how much money his buddies from law school make and was feeling sorry for himself.

REALLY? 

REALLY?

Your Solution:

You’re making it all about you…and it’s not.

You’re spending too much time in your head and it’s getting boring.  Here’s an idea – do something for somebody else. Don’t wait to “want “ to be of service…..just do something despite how you feel about it.  This can be as involved or as simple as you want.

Here are a few quick ideas you can do right now:

  • Go read a book to your kid.
  • Go take a walk around your neighborhood and pick up trash.
  • Ask your spouse if he’d like a back rub (are you reading this honey?)

3. Create Humility

One of my favorite people in the world explained that humility means being on the same level with everyone.  Not better. Not worse.  The same.  If you tell yourself you suck at something that implies that someone else is better at it (which may be true) and therefore better than you (which is certainly not true). 

So let someone – or everyone be better than you are at some activity.  Just because someone else does something better than you, it doesn’t mean you suck.  Who cares?  Why let that mean anything?  Understand that the only person who gives that fact any credibility at all is you.  Stop it.  Right now.

Your Solution

My experience tells me that the solution for lack of humility is spiritual in nature.  It’s asking for help from a higher power.  However, I believe there are practical things you can do to solve this as well.

When you lack humility, you lack self esteem.  Do estimable acts.  Things that prove to yourself that you aren’t worthless.  You might have years and years of practice telling yourself what a piece of crap you are so this is going to take work.

But believe me, if you do estimable acts over a long enough time, sooner or later, the evidence is going to pile up and you’ll have more self-esteem.  You won’t be looking around for evidence to support that notion that you suck because you’ll know that you don’t.

4.  Get a New Currency In Your Life

We measure our success in life by how thin we are, how many readers we have for our blog, how big our house or apartment is (or isn’t), how much money we have, how much we travel etc. 

It’s very “me” based and it turns “me” off.

It’s a system designed to perpetuate misery.  There will always be someone who is smarter, better or faster.  Always.

When I was in junior high school, I remember reading about a tribe in Africa that measured their wealth by what they gave away rather than by what they had.  This story had a huge impact on me.

What if all our running around trying to have “more” is wrong?  What if it doesn’t mean anything.  I can tell you from working with people and money for the last 25 years, nobody has ever said that their greatest achievements in life had anything to do with money. Nobody.

What if our true wealth is derived from how much we try to help others?  Close your eyes and imagine that for just a minute.

When you do…it’s really hard to have the “I suck” conversation with yourself….isn’t it?

5. Bonus Solution – Laugh at Yourself

I hate to tell you this but in less than 100 years, you and I will be dust. 

Let’s enjoy the time we have.  Even if we are a klutz or not great at volleyball, who cares?  So what if you aren’t Angelina or Brad?  Who cares if you aren’t Bill Gates or Madam Currie?  It sure won’t matter in 100 years.  It probably won’t matter in 100 days.  Actually, it probably doesn’t matter now.

As long as you try your hardest, you can’t possibly suck at anything.  You may not do something as well as others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of yourself for your best efforts.  Believe me, I’d rather be around a person who tries her very hardest with modest results than a person who doesn’t put any effort in and seems to have everything flow his way.  Wouldn’t you?

Comments

  1. A lot of times we naturally get down on ourselves, maybe it’s just mental negative reasons, sometimes they can be used to help motivate to do better. Hopefully you look at it with a positive spin, but don’t get too hard on yourself because you don’t suck.

    • It is difficult to think you suck, when people expect or in my jobs case, require you to do things a certain way that you can’t do.

  2. Craig,

    Right. I don’t know why we have this built-in mechanism that tears ourselves down. Talking about it, writing about it and praying about it is a great way to take contrary action.

    Nicki, Glad to have you aboard at Wealth Pilgrim. I also want to thank Frugal Dad for hosting this. He’s an amazing person.

  3. Humility, hard work (trying), and self-confidence are some of the foundations of success.

    Neal – you have done a particularly fine job addressing “how we see our current blessings in life.” Most times we complain about our situation and think “the grass is always greener” but we will never find success if that is our active perspective. I think thankfulness was the thing that helped me the most in this area. The more time I spend thanking God for the blessings He has given me… the less time I can spend complaining about them! :-)

    Cheers.

  4. Kandace, U r so right. I completely overlooked the blessings we give others when we give to ourselves. Outstanding point!

    Matt,

    Hey….u r one of the people I am most recently grateful for so your comment is particularly touching.

  5. Thank you for posting this.

    Just last week I had a fight with my husband in which essentially he told me that I suck (in regards to keeping the house clean)…this has been an ongoing battle for me since we married (we’ve been married 16 years).

    I really needed to hear this today. Thank you

  6. I nodded my way through this post. Well said Frugal Dad. I find when I get wrapped up in some negativity, I say this to myself “Is this obituary material?” which is essentially the same as what you’re saying about 100 years from now.

  7. As an avid reader of your blog, this one hit home at just the right time. Our company is headed into a huge thrust and there are days where you tell yourself: am I good enough? Thanks for reminding me to take a step back every now and then.

  8. Wow – I needed this today, thank you so very much. The part that spoke to me was “don’t compare yourself to others”. Why do we do that anyway? Silly :)

  9. I’m with you Erin. I have no idea why we do this…other than some need to punish ourselves. Makes no sense…but we all do it I think.

    Best course of action is to remain aware of it and take contrary action.

  10. Like I tell my students, the only person you have to compete with is the person in the mirror. So long as you are a better person today than you were yesterday, you are doing alright.

    I try to choose to be happy, but today was a really down day. This post helped to remind me that I have done much and just because I let some bills get away from me, AFTER MY HOUSE BURNED DOWN, doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. You know, I teach special education students and I try to be understanding, patient and forgiving. I am usually successful; why can’t I offer myself just a modicum of what I offer other people’s children?

  11. Estimable acts is an act that would cause you to feel proud of yourself. I gave some examples above…..but I think it depends on your personality.

    If I went around the block and picked up trash, that would qualify for example….

    Can you come up with a few John?

  12. Point 4 reminded me of something I just read in… The Hidden Art, I think it was, where the author said “You are the environment in which other people live”.

  13. Great post, Neal. I agree with Steve, this post could be a segment of a book!

    I appreciate this post because it is hard for me not to compare myself to other bloggers. But there are ways to be competitive without cutting myself down. These tips are a great reminder of the steps I can take to feel good about myself and remember what is truly important in my life – what I have, not what I wish I had.

    My list includes:
    -a truly giving and understanding mother
    -a job that allows me to be creative and write
    -friends and family who are supportive and nice to me!
    -good health
    -passion for life

    I feel better already.

  14. Awesome post.
    FYI, the physicist to whom you referred (and who won two Nobel prizes) was Madame Curie, not Madam Currie.
    Cheers,
    a physicist.

  15. Awesome stuff, Neal! I gotta keep remembering this… But a lot of the time, I’m laughing at myself when I say I suck. I hardly mean it anymore…. Somehow, I got over a lot of it a couple of weeks ago, I don’t know why but it’s freeing!

  16. Awesome Foxie! Let’s find a way to bottle your secret formula….we’ll make a fortune!

    I’ve had moments where that’s happened to me too – I just realize how ridiculous my self-recriminations are and just laugh at myself.

    It’s a great feeling.

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