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No Sucking Allowed!

Striving for success. A worthy mission. But isn’t this just a nice spin on what we’re really trying to do — not achieving failure? Or at least avoiding mediocrity?

Be honest — we’d simply rather talk about kicking ass than not having our ass kicked. It shows better form. Charlie Sheen says it’s about “winning” but I’ll bet his true ambition is far more modest: not self-destructing.

If we’re honest with ourselves, I think the true motivation for many of us is not falling short. It’s the reason most of us get out of bed in the morning. Sure, we say we’re ready to “face the day”, but isn’t it more about what we’ll face if we don’t? C’mon, be honest! Our need to “be positive” is so ingrained that it’s uncomfortable to consider that it could be anything else. It’s scary to think that fear of failure could be the true driving force.

We all know that our time here is limited, but we also know that having a deadline is a great motivator! We go to school, study, learn and work hard in our careers to make the most of the time we are given. When I stop to think about it, it’s why I try to make every design better than the last and why I played so hard during my tennis match this morning. It’s why I’m not just dashing off this post, but rewriting it several times to tighten it up and make sure it says what I want. I don’t want to suck! And I don’t want others to think I suck! That’s really what it’s about — I’m driven to do what it takes to ensure the opposite result of failure. Or just mediocrity, for that matter.

Aside from the things that are simply out of our control, we are the masters of our own destinies. Life is what you make of it. In life, in work, in business, this blog — you’re only as good as what you’ve done last.

In fact, I’m so afraid of sucking that I don’t suck. Or do I have this all ass-backwards?

0 Replies to “No Sucking Allowed!”

  1. Very honest Paul. I think we all suck very rarely do people get there straight. We all start out sucking. For me it is a journey I know what I think does not suck and that is what I want to think. May be I am delusional. One thing I am committed to doing is not sucking. Think the fear of not sucking can be a limiting factor. Sometimes we got to suck it up and just take the step and give the commitment to being the best we can be. The market will take care of the rest. Just my two cents. Enjoyed the timely reminder. You don’t suck by the way. 🙂

  2. Great post. I completely agree that most of us are driven by some mad fear of failure. Your post got me thinking: what if what doesn’t suck to you, sucks to someone else? Sucking, like beauty, is probably in the eye of the beholder. Is part of the journey we’re all on to just get happy and content with our own efforts and not worry about the “suck” judgement from others? Or is it to get to a point where we’re kinder to ourselves? I know I’ve produced stuff that I thought didn’t “suck” and then looked back on it and realized that indeed it was quite sucky. Maybe I’d be happier if I focus more on the process than the result. 🙂

  3. @Kenny Thanks for your comments! Not sucking is a commitment we make on a daily basis. Sometimes we lose the battle but the goal is to win the war. The trick is not shying away from risks when the chance for failure is high.

    @Glain I appreciate your thoughts and I agree — not everybody agrees on what sucks. The best we can do is be true to ourselves and everything should work out just fine.

  4. Love that last phrase, Paul: “I’m so afraid of sucking that I don’t suck.”

    I often ponder quality, want to revise, edit, improve etc. It can be overpowering but I’ve come to realize it’s extremely valuable. All that needs to be managed is the level to which it preoccupies us, so that the fear doesn’t spiral down into paralysis and inaction.

    Used as a motivator to improve, the ‘fear of sucking’ achieves just the outcome that you desire…not sucking! Well done for hitting that level!

  5. It may be that motivation is different for different people. I often notice that I’m more motivated by fantasy than fear. Fear just seems to freeze me up — fantasy inspires me.

    And I like deadlines, but I’m usually the type that finishes way early, simply because I don’t always do my best work the day before something is due.

    However, I have friends who do their very best work by knocking a project out right before its deadline, and they swear by it.

    You’ve given me something to think about! Great post, Paul.

    { twitter = @danenow }

  6. Thanks, Dane — I think you’ve given a nice retort to my question that asked “or do I have this all ass-backwards?”. You come at your motivations from a very positive place, in that you are inspired by fantasy. Truth be told, that plays a HUGE part in what I do. I love getting lost in my work as the hours fly by. But I could easily “suck” again if I miss my deadlines. So, if they aren’t always my primary motivation for doing the work in the first place, they at least make sure the work gets done on time.

  7. In striving not to “suck” we need to improve, learn from what has sucked and change it. If we constantly do this in time we will realise that at one point in the past, we all sucked. even though at the time we don’t believe that we did. Its constant improvement and change that keeps us from sucking.

    1. That’s right, Nick — it’s called forward motion — progress, day-by-day. I think, by and large, it is inherent in our very nature to be that way — and it keeps us from sucking. Isn’t that wonderful?

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