The Gift of Being Bad at Just About Everything

by Amy on June 10, 2014

Sports were a big deal in my family.  A card carrying approval addict even then, I played them all.

In summer it was softball (second base).

Each time somebody was up to bat I would secretly plead with God, “please Lord DO NOT let her hit that ball to me. Please, please, please, please, pleeeeaassssse….. NOOOO! (sound of bat cracking)…”


Typically what would happen next is that Tiffeny Milbrett, the shortstop, would gracefully swoop in, scoop up the ball, and launch it wherever it needed to go, all in a millisecond, while I stood there inches away disoriented and mildly offended.

(It was comforting to learn that Tiffeny would go on to score the winning goal against China for the Gold in the 1996 Olympics).

Me = Average

The truth is I was a pretty average kid. Didn’t get good grades.  Wasn’t good at sports.  Wasn’t that cute or charming.

One day, I was feeling pretty low after a basketball game (there were air balls and other failed shot attempts) when my dad gave me some advice. “Amy,” he said, “you might never be the best but one thing  you can always do is HUSTLE.”

My Secret Weapon

“When the coach calls you back to the bench, you HUSTLE. While your teammates are walking back, YOU hustle,” he said.

And so I did. I became the one that hustled. I hardly ever fielded a ball or made a basket, but I hustled to the bench and I hustled back. I clapped and I cheered and I yelled “go!”–  all while hustling.

Quantity Over Quality

In the book Fail Fast, Fail Often, Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz tell of a ceramics teacher who tried an experiment with his class. He divided it into two groups. One group would be graded on the quantity of their work, the other group would be graded on quality.

What he found was that the group who thought they’d be graded on quantity (the ones “hustling” to get as much pottery done as possible) were actually creating better pottery.

It’s How We Learn

They were trying a lot of stuff, making mistakes and learning from them.

Now I can’t claim that learning how to hustle made me a better basketball player (I didn’t care about basketball), but it did make me a better life coach.

Back in coach training, we learned how to coach by coaching each other in front of a master coach. Fumbling in front of your peers as skilled people watched and told you how to do better can be humbling…

But hey, thanks to basketball and softball and volleyball and track, I’m used to THAT.

So in Coach the Coach, I’d hustle. When it was time to be the coach, I’d volunteer. A lot. Then I found a bunch of people who let me coach them. I remember those sessions…Disoriented, awkward, and at times, mildly offended, yet still… I hustled.

And after awhile I started to feel different… Dare I say it: more comfortable…? After a while I actually started to allow myself to think I might be getting good at this thing.

And now, oddly, I’m the master coach who teaches other coaches how to coach.

I wasn’t born good at it. I was actually pretty bad to start. Just like a lot of things.

Some People Are Like Tiffeny. And That’s Okay.

It’s true some people are like Tiffeny. They’re born with it. I used to want to be like that.

But if it weren’t for being bad at just about everything, I would’ve never learned how to hustle. It’s my secret weapon. But I won’t keep it all to myself. I’m giving it to you now.

Whether you were born like Tiffeny (we won’t hold it against you) or like me, you have my dad to thank.

In honor of you this Father’s Day…

Thanks Dad.

A Simple 3 Step Strategy For People Who Want to Hustle:

  1. Pick something YOU want to get good at – Don’t do what I did and choose things you don’t like to do just so other people will approve (ahem, like softball or basketball).
  2. Forget about doing a good job at the thing you want to get good at [Tweet this]– Just do it a lot and let yourself make mistakes so you can learn from the mistakes.
  3. Remind yourself to stop worrying about doing a good job at it – (Sorry but you needed to hear it again.) Get over yourself and actually try to have fun for a change (sheesh). If you can have some damn fun, you might stop noticing how bad you are long enough to get good at it.

Now it’s YOUR turn! How can you do a little more to hustle in your own life?

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