Matthew Sweet asks, “Are you willing to be bad long enough to get really good?”
Considering starting something? Keep this in mind: You’re going to suck. Really bad. Possibly for a long time.
This morning, I was reading Sick in the Head. It’s Judd Apatow’s collection of interviews with great comedians. I came across this exchange with Amy Schumer:
“Amy: … I started doing open mics. They were the worst shows in the world.
Judd: So how long until you were okay at it?
Amy: Four years. It wasn’t until the end of the Last Comic Standing tour that I was okay. I could do five minutes, but to do a twenty-minute set and have it be okay? That took three or four years.”
This is my third attempt at writing a blog. The two that came before were shit. Embarrassing. Amateur. But that’s okay. I learnt from them and came back better.
If you’re an artist, your first few thousand drawings might be awful. You’ll come back to them in ten years and think, “what the fuck was I doing?”
If you’re an entrepreneur, your first fifty attempts to get something off the ground might bomb. And they might only be a handful of thousands of other ideas you passed over.
If you’re a podcaster, your first one hundred episodes won’t be the best. It takes time to find your style and learn how to interview.
No matter what you start, the first few years, the first thousand attempts are going to suck. The question is, can you survive it? Are you willing to embrace the suck?
This is what Seth Godin talks about in The Dip, which explains why quitting is a strategic, not a moral decision. He asks, are you willing to go through the dip? Are you willing to persevere long enough to come good?
James Altucher in his article on re-inventing yourself talks about the timeline.
Year One: you’re flailing and reading everything and just starting to DO.
Year Two: you know who you need to talk to and network with. You’re Doing every day. You finally know what the monopoly board looks like in your new endeavors.
Year Three: you’re good enough to start making money. It might not be a living yet.
Year Four: you’re making a good living.
Year Five: you’re making wealth.
It’s the long view.
Whatever you do, you have to do it every day, for decades. But in the beginning, you have to remember that each of those days isn’t going to be the best.
The quality of what you produce won’t always match up with what you think are capable of creating. You’re going to spend a few years being unsatisfied. It will take a few years for your skill to match up with your vision.
Which means, for a long time, it’s going to suck. It’s going to be a long, hard struggle. The question is, are you going to embrace that, or run from it?
Are you willing to be bad long enough to get really good.