― Brené Brown
I asked Melissa to please sing the words along with the popular piano piece she was learning during one of our weekly music lessons. (I ask all of my students to sing – it trains their ear and their voice and boosts confidence!) She shook her head vehemently and refused. I asked her why she was so reluctant to sing it. She explained to me that she sang a piece she had learned earlier at a school assembly talent show. As she was returning to her seat she overheard two older girls laughing and saying that she was a terrible singer. Once my stomach and heart returned to their designated places within me and I took a calming breath, I then asked Melissa if either of those two girls participated in the talent show. She said, no, they hadn’t. I replied, well, then, their opinion doesn’t even matter, because if you are not going to participate, you forfeit the right to criticize.
One of my favourite coaching adages is ‘be willing to suck.’(I write about it often!) If there is something you want to try, something you want to learn, something you want to experience you most likey discount and disqualify yourself by saying you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t because you won’t be ‘good’ at it. I then must ask, is being ‘good’ at it really the point? I am not a great singer. I’ve sung all my life. I sing all the time. I am not ‘good’ at it, but it gives me great joy. I can’t help singing. Should I stay quiet because I’m not ‘good?’ (My near and dear may be answering 'yes,' but never mind them!) Should you forgo a meaningful life experience because you might not be ‘good’ at it?
I would hope that if you have children, you are teaching them that trying and failing is more honourable than not trying at all and certainly more honourable than criticizing others who do try. What would our organizational boards and governments be like if the people that were called to be leaders and change innovators were not slandered or humiliated out of service?
If you are an adult and are putting yourself ‘out there’ again in an attempt to begin romantic relating , well good for you! And if you are rejected, once or repeatedly, please talk to an encouraging friend and remind yourself that the trying is valiant. It is easy to stay home and remain unseen. If you have always wanted to write, or sing or fly, being ‘willing to suck’ is a great way to take that first step.
I told my student that Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift must have sucked at some point. Even if they came out singing pitch perfect, they had to have had moments where things did not go well, but they kept on going and trying and getting support when they needed it. My student squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, played and sang her piece for me. We both experienced the joy.