When "I'm Not Good at This" is a Good Thing

There are some things I am good at.

There are some things I am not good at, and I am okay with that.

Then there are some things I am not good at and I would like to be.

If you’re new to my world, you may not know what long-time readers know about me: I’m an avid outdoor runner. Last year I ran 772.1 miles (if we want to get technical); this year, I’ve already run 508.9. So, I’m on target to best last year’s total. 

I am good at running. It’s my thing. I don’t need to be cajoled into it. And while I prefer to run in sunny, cool weather, rain and really hot or cold temps don’t deter me. 

I cannot say the same thing about strength training. This is something I’m not so good at, but would like to be. Despite having weights and apps I can use, I’ll get in a groove and then fall off track.

But, that changed recently.

Thanks to my dear friend, Tara McMullin, who introduced me to a yoga app – Glo – I’m on a roll unlike any time previously. In just the last three weeks, I’ve taken 18 classes with the instructor, Jason Crandell. Now granted 18 classes doesn’t portend a trend. But it has interrupted a previous pattern.

There is something different this time around. And although I’ve yet to put my finger on what that “something” is exactly, I know it’s not just because I’m paying for the app. Other apps I’ve used had a fee option as well. 

However, here’s what I do know: Even though every single class has been hard as hell, I actually look forward to the next one. Even though I’m discovering muscles I didn’t know I had, and that my upper body and core aren’t as strong as I think, I want to see what I can do today that I couldn’t yesterday. 

So, I’ve been pulling out the mat and opening the app because I want to get better…and be as consistent with strength training as I am with running. For realz this time.

Beyond Comfort Zones

At first blush, you might think this piece is about you (and me) getting out of our comfort zones. That’s partially true. Especially since doing so involves doing things you either haven’t done before or not well or didn’t think you could. 

But I actually want to explore something else today: 

When you deliberately journey into the unknown and purposefully do what you’re not good at, a shift happens inside of you

Self-Image

How many times have you proudly said, “I’m good at X” compared to the number of times you’ve proudly said, “I’m not good at Y” and “Y” was related to something that mattered to you? I bet the former is greater than the latter. 

At least that’s been my experience.

I’m definitely a Type-A, high achiever. I am an Enneagram 3. I’m ambitious, focused, goal oriented, disciplined and doggedly tenacious. These are not bad traits to have. In fact, I believe they contribute to what makes me good at what I do, and why I’m well versed when it comes to my body of work. 

But for me, the dark side of being a high-achiever often means I can be really hard on myself when I do something that fails, or when it takes too long (however that’s defined) for me to figure out something. With these yoga classes, I’m being confronted by all of this. Because, I’m “failing” at some point during every single class – either because I need to do a modified version of a pose or because I cannot do it at all (e.g., the image above).

Interestingly, I’m cool with this.

I may not always be open to or willing to not be good at something, but somewhere deep inside, I’ve given myself permission to be this way when it comes to these classes.🤷🏾‍♀️ In the process, I’ve found myself taking a bit of my own medicine as this is reminding me of something I often say to my clients when needed: hard is normal.

One of the reasons my clients work with me is because they want help changing a particular behavior, interrupting a pattern, or tweaking their decision matrix. Turns out, they, too, tend to be hard on themselves when they a) find it hard to make the changes they want, and b) don’t immediately see the results they’d hoped those changes would bring about. 

What about you? Even if it’s not related directly to money, are you impatient when the results you want aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like? Or, what about when things are changing so rapidly, you can’t keep up? And, on what do you base the assessment of  “good at” – the outcome, the speed, the process, or a combination of these factors?

Growth & Expansion 

Comfort zones feel safe, familiar and secure. They are cozy. And who doesn’t like feeling cozy, especially during hyper-uncertain times like these. But comfort zones don’t typically represent spaces that invite learning something new or developing new skills

I don’t have any scientific evidence to back up what I’m about to say, but here goes: 

I think intentionally doing things you’re not good at moves you into a space of growth and expansion. 

That’s how I feel about these yoga classes, anyway. 

They are stretching me literally and figuratively! They are helping me break old routines – that only now feel old. And inviting me to create new ones. 

They are boosting my confidence on the mat – even as I find some of the poses really, really hard. And off the mat. 

They are reaffirming my commitment to do what’s necessary to be the best version of myself, so I can show up and give from the best place possible. 

Also, hanging out in a space of growth and expansion reminds me to have fun!

There’s more…

The classes have improved my running pace. You may say that’s obvious.

What is a little less obvious is a question I’ve been asking myself: If I’m willing to not be good at something, but stick with it anyway, where else in my life and business can I apply the same attitude? And how might that enrich my life and my business?

Comfort Zones

You don’t just have one comfort zone. You have several depending upon the situation and people involved. I also don’t think comfort zones are bad per se. After all, they can be a place of rest and respite. 

But, can you discern when you’re using your comfort zones to rest vs. when you’re using them to shy away from a challenge.

TL;DR: How might doing something you’re not good at help you to be a better version of yourself? How might it have a positive ripple effect on other areas of your life.

How might it help you to finish the year stronger? Could it give you the boost you need to finish those unfinished projects and tackle those unmet goals? Could it stop you from continuing to defer a decision you’ve been putting off? 

I don’t know for certain. But I’m betting on yes – yes, it will!

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