Being a bit rubbish for a while

Have you tried aspiring to mediocrity?  The negative connotations around being average can prevent people from trying new things; it can somehow get taken as a permanent stain on a person’s ability or ambition.

The way I see it, Mediocre is a nice step up from Rubbish, which is typically the starting point on anything new or different.  So at some point everyone’s going to have to pass through Mediocre, even when they’re on the way to Greatness.  Where’s the shame in it?

The sense of achievement you feel when you realise that you are no longer rubbish at something can be pretty satisfying.  Ask anyone who set up their own business and struggled for 2 years to win their first customer.  Or someone who has finally managed to reliably get their first serve in.  Those people are unlikely to be the next Apple or win Wimbledon, so it can be a good idea to just modestly enjoy the improvement, and keep getting better.

The performance that results from being good at something feels heroic, and it can be very tempting to stay there and keep repeating it.  The challenge of something new involves learning rather than performance, and feels scary: it means being rubbish for a while, and that can be seen as a risk (maybe to income, ego, or comfort).   Learning vs. performance = dynamic vs. static.  To read more about this, look at this piece by Colleen Sharen, who has summarised some science around it.

For me, the encouraging thing to take from here is that, when considering what I want to do, whether professionally or just as a hobby, there’s no need to limit myself to what I am, or used to be, good at.  There’s all those things that I am currently rubbish at!  With effort, I can fight my way to a rewarding level of mediocrity and beyond.  Writing, drawing, coding, bricklaying, the options are vast…which ones I choose to put my effort into is the toughie.

So, greetings from the wheely bin!  Learning lots through being a bit rubbish for a while.


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