You suck. Don’t feel bad about it. It’s a universal condition. EVERYONE sucks.
Tiger Woods was once one of the worst golfers in the world. Albert Einstein once didn’t know the first thing about physics. Michael Phelps didn’t know how to swim. And yet they all went on to achieve incredible things in their fields.
Everyone starts at the bottom.
Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now my whole team fucking here
– Drake (from the song Started from the Bottom)
The next time you are learning something new and are frustrated, remember that everyone starts at the bottom. When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to be frustrated. At one point you sucked at everything you do in life! Everything! You couldn’t walk. You couldn’t tie your shoes. You couldn’t even use the toilet.
Luckily, you were persistent and even went on to achieve some incredible things. Just think of how challenging it is to learn a new language, but you did it.
As we grow up to be adults, we seem to grow fearful of sucking at things. That’s a shame, because it makes us avoid learning how to do something new.
I suck. Again.
I was an accountant for 19 years. When I started as an accountant, I sucked at it, like all new accountants. I was clueless, but persistent. I gradually improved to the point where I was an excellent accountant.
On April 30th of this year, I quit my accounting job in order to start my own software company. Not only that, but I decided to learn how to program, which I have been doing over the last six months.
Although I have taken a few programming classes over the years, I am for all intents and purposes starting from scratch. I suck at programming. I went from the top of my field back down to the bottom.
First massive frustration, then peace of mind.
I will never forget the extreme frustration that I felt during that first month or so. I was anxious to stop sucking so much, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around some of the more difficult programming concepts. I would read something and think to myself, “Huh? What the fuck are you talking about? That makes no sense whatsoever!”
Sometimes I would plow ahead, but one concept is often dependent on another, so I would become increasingly lost and overwhelmed. Several times I made it halfway through a book and then decided to give up and start again from the beginning, hoping that I would understand it the second time around. I started to become stressed out until I realized something. I thought to myself:
“You are an intelligent guy. The problem isn’t you. The problem is that the material is challenging. If others understand it, you certainly can. Just slow down, try to understand one concept at a time, and stop trying to rush it.”
It was amazing how much of an impact this realization had on my peace of mind. I immediately regained my confidence. I also changed my learning strategy. Instead of impatiently plowing ahead, I began to become much more persistent about learning one concept at a time. If I couldn’t understand a concept the way it was explained in a book, then I would keep searching Google for other resources that explained the concept until it began to make sense.
Not surprisingly, more difficult concepts are also more difficult to explain. I found it helpful to expose myself to many different “angles of attack” by reading multiple explanations. Slowly the pieces of the puzzle would begin to fit together until I understood the concept.
After six months, I still suck at programming, but I suck a lot less than I used to. And I learned a very important concept.
The secret of success is to suck a little less every day.