Do you ever sit there and wonder how it can be that some people are just good at everything whilst you could immediately think of a dozen things you are pretty bad at? Whether it’s sports, maths, science, languages, art or even social skills, some people just seem to be good at it all. They sail through school with little effort, engage in plenty of sports activities, have a heap load of friends and if you stick them into a room full of strangers, by the end of the day they walk out of it with loads more friends.
These people stand out from the crowd from a very young age on and often have a tendency of being or becoming quite competitive. It’s not always immediately obvious but give it some time and the competitive side will eventually come out. And who can blame them? If you are particularly good at something and you know it makes you feel great every time you do more of it then why wouldn’t you want to push yourself to get even better at it? You might even go as far as comparing yourself to others and not just compete against yourself anymore. Maybe even secretly thrive on the fact that there are people out there trying really hard to acquire the same skill you already have and failing miserably at it. And when they do fail, no matter how morally “well behaved” you are, somewhere inside you there is this tingling sense of winning that you know isn’t quite right but you can’t help it. It just happens.
If this is you, congratulations that you are lucky enough to be good at everything, or shall we say most things at least. Seriously, good for you! But this article isn’t actually about patting yourself on the shoulder for the things you’re good at. It’s about the realisation that being bad at something isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, I’d like you to think of just 1 thing that you think you are seriously bad at. Got one? Great.
Now think about how it makes you feel when you try to become better at that something and you realise that it is really, really hard work for you. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the one thing you’re really bad at is learning languages. No matter how many hours you spend studying, how much attention you pay to your teacher during class or how many new words you can memorise in an hour. When it comes to reading, writing or God forbid actually applying the language in real Life, it all just disappears. All the words evaporate, the grammar becomes one big mess in your head and as soon as you try to say something in this foreign language, it feels like only gibberish is coming out. And naturally, seen as you’re trying to talk to someone at that moment, it means all this has been witnessed by the person opposite and those around you. In that moment you’re so overly aware of your “failure” that your cheeks turn tomato red from embarrassment and you kind of wish you could just dig a hole and curl up in it for a while.
THIS is the good thing about being bad at something – It truly humbles you. It diverts your attention from what you WANT to be good at to what you NEED to be good at and how to use your existing skills to help grow new ones.
Even those who are seemingly good at everything, have their daily battles with things they know they could do better at. It may even be that the very same competitive edge that pushes them to get better and better is also what makes them feel humbled on a regular basis. They might feel bad about themselves for using other people’s failures to measure their own success. Realising that every time this happens, what they should be working on is more empathy. Or a better understanding and acceptance of the diversity of people and their skills and needs. Maybe even lend a hand to those who are just starting out and give them advice on how to get better at it instead of having a secret snigger to themselves that the other person is failing at something that comes so easily to them. Because for all they know, that same person who’s struggling terribly to learn a skill they already have, might be an absolute genius when it comes down to being empathetic and bringing out the best in others. Or that the person who struggles to learn languages, has a great way with people. And so when they go abroad, it doesn’t matter that they don’t speak the local tongue perfectly because what they are good at, for instance socialising, is what helps them in the end to grow their immature language skills in a way that makes everyone feel better about themselves.
So being bad at something is Life’s way of keeping us grounded. Helping us understand that without effort there’s no success. But most importantly being bad at something is all about being humbled to the point where we recognise talent in others and unite our skill sets to help each other as well as ourselves to become better people all round.
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