The Power (and Beauty) of Sucking at Something

sucking at something

As you head into your weekend I want to encourage you to do something during your downtime that you’re NOT AT ALL good at. I don’t really care what it is. Ice skating, axe throwing, singing, sitting still, whatever it may be. Why? Because there is a ton of power—and beauty— in sucking at something.

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When you say, I’m going to do this thing even though I’m really bad at it. That probably means that you’re doing something you don’t normally do. Which means you’re trying something new, or something that you haven’t done in so long that it may as well be new. 

And guess what?

Novelty is really important for long-term happiness.

Novelty can keep a relationship alive, and it can keep your excitement about life alive too. I mean, yes, it’s great to grow up and learn more about yourself, what you like and don’t like and what you’re good at and what you’re not so great at. But your brain is wired for novelty. Doing new things is how you form new connections between neurons which keeps you young. It also keeps you humble, because if you only stick to the things you know how to do well, you probably think you’re pretty gosh darn good at everything. And no one is good at everything!

The Beauty of the Beginner’s Mind

 Sucking at something, but still doing it also gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in something that’s super powerful. And that’s beginner’s mind. This is a Buddhist concept that explains how coming into any moment without preconceived notions or expectations on how it’s going to go is when we are our most present, which is a gift in and of itself. That’s mindfulness–not having expectation, and just paying attention to whatever’s happening in this moment. 

As great as it is to get really good at something, it’s really hard to experience beginner’s mind if you only do the things you only know how to do. 

My Own Experiences with Sucking at Something

Trust me though, that trying new things and even embracing the idea that you’re going to suck at it can still be hugely frustrating. Last summer I took golf lessons because my husband loves golf and he’s taught the kids about it enough that they can go out and play with him, and I wanted to be able to hang with the fam. I thought because I’ve practiced yoga for over 20 years and I work out that I was going to be able to pick it up fairly quickly. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 92 percent of the balls I tried to drive went way, way, way right, like to the point that I was a hazard to the other people on the driving range.

It was not fun to be that far outside my comfort zone! But wow was my  brain engaged in a totally different way than it ever had been before. And turns out I have a fairly decent short game. I mean, clearly, I’ve got lots of hours at the range in my future if I want to get to the point where I’m probably not going to give anyone a concussion.

But overall, it just felt good to be engaging with life in a new way. And that’s what sucking at something, but continuing to do it is really all about. Just saying, hey, let’s see what happens. And when you can drop your expectations it helps you show up in all the other parts of your life with that beginner’s mind, too. It helps you be what the teachers in my yoga teacher training called an empty cup–with enough room inside to let in new things. 

What could you do this weekend that chances are you are going to totally suck at?

Don’t talk yourself out of it; imagine that we will all be out there sucking at something too. We’re in this together. 

Start with something fun, and it will help you do something that’s harder that you’re not familiar with when that time comes; and you know that time will come. Whether that’s having a conversation about race, or standing up for something important to you, or setting a boundary, giving yourself this chance to do something you’ve never done before and be OK with not doing it all that well will empower you to do it on other parts of your life whenever you need it. 

I of course would LOVE to see a photo of whatever activity you’re sucking at

It will help us all see that we’re not the only ones out there looking like a fool! Post a pic on Instagram with the hashtag #betterpersonpod and tag me @katehanleyauthor. I’ll share any photos I get in the podcast newsletter next week.

Did you know there was a podcast newsletter?

There is! I sent it out every Saturday morning with links to all the episodes from the previous week as well as a sneak peek of the week to come, and one well-chosen meme to send you off into your Saturday with a smile on your face. You can sign up at and click on “get podcast news.” 


Cheers, and I’ll talk to you next week. 


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