Several weekends ago, I decided that I was finally going to teach my daughter how to ride her bike all by herself without any training wheels on. And I was super excited about it.
Ever since I became a new Dad, I had dreamed about this fairy tale moment where I would teach my daughter how to ride her bike for the very first time…And it was going to be magical.
I would hold her seat and handle bars, give her a gentle push and then watch her glide off into the sunset as she learned to balance herself on two wheels.
And at the end of her lesson, she would be so thankful for having her awesome father teach her how to ride her bike that she would continuously give me hugs and kisses all the way home.
Yep, I must have been smoking crack that day because that is not how it played out at all. In fact, it wasn’t even close.
Instead of giving her a gentle push and watching her ride off into the sunset, I gave her a push and she promptly toppled over onto her side. Then I lifted her up, gave her another push and she fell over again. This happened over and over again until the whining and the tears started coming out.
Daddy, I don’t want to learn how to ride a bike anymore. It’s too hard. I can’t do it Daddy, I can’t!
Have you ever watched those commercials and movies where the Dad and the child are having so much fun learning how to ride a bike? Well all of that is complete BS. Where the heck are all the missing scenes where the kid is crying and melting down? Where are all the scenes where the kid just wants to quit?
I Can’t Do It. It’s Too Hard
No, I’m not bitter:) But what bothered me the most about the whole bike riding lesson was that my daughter kept repeating to herself that she wasn’t good at bike riding. And she said it in such a way that she convinced herself that she would never ever be good at it either.
Overall, I felt really bad about the situation since it was partially my fault. I made her get on a bike and expected her to learn how to ride in just a single afternoon. I pushed her a little too hard and had unrealistic expectations.
So we called it quits for the day and decided to put it off for a little while before trying again.
It’s Not So Bad
The following weekend, I decided to try something different. Instead of just giving her a push and letting her go, I strapped on my roller blades and held onto her back as she rode. This way, I could support her in case she lost balance.
Also, she felt my presence behind her which gave her peace of mind that she wasn’t going to fall down. In a way, I acted like her training wheels. Slowly but surely, I could sense that her balance was improving and she started having a little more fun.
Look Daddy, I’m going so fast! Wheeeeeee
That afternoon after we called it quits, my daughter was definitely enjoying it more and the best part was that she was itching to go riding again.
I’m Doing It
Fast forward a few more weekends and my Hollywood dream finally came true. I was holding onto my daughter’s shoulders on my rollerblades as she was biking. And once we picked up a little speed, I slowly let go of her back….
Low and behold, she started riding all by herself! And she was so happy at the end of the day that all she could talk about was riding her bike. I also got my fair share of hugs and kisses. Overall, it was a great afternoon and one that I will never forget:)
So What If You Suck At Something?
Now what’s funny about my daughter’s initial reaction to learning how to ride is that we as adults often behave the same way. How many times have you told yourself that you couldn’t do something because you sucked at it?
How many times have you completely discounted or written yourself off because you didn’t know how to do something or tried something once but was bad at it? For me, I used to write myself off all of the time especially when it came to marketing and sales.
As a Chinese American who decided to pursue engineering as a career, I was always brought up to be humble, logical, passive and never brag or embellish any facts. In general, this type of personality and behavior is not conducive to marketing and sales:).
In fact, I always told myself that I was horrible at marketing because the science of human behavior made absolutely no sense to me and selling anything felt extremely unnatural. I hated talking about my accomplishments. I hated having to “promote” my products and website. I hated the entire selling process.
In fact, I kept telling myself that I sucked to such a degree that I started believing my words. After all, I had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t understand the fundamental principles of sales and marketing.
How To Suck Less
One of the biggest reasons I thought I was bad at marketing and sales was because I often expected instant results. I would try something that I learned online, it wouldn’t work out the way I had planned and then I would give up.
For example when I first put up affiliate offers on my blog, I expected them to convert right away. But when I didn’t refer a single sale, I immediately got discouraged and started questioning my writing skills.
Same thing happened with my email newsletter signup form. When I first tried to launch my email list, no one was willing to sign up because my sales copy was atrocious.
But over time and with repeated failures, I started getting better at marketing myself. I started getting better at writing convincing sales copy. And with each experiment, I gained a better understanding of human psychology.
What most people don’t realize is that the human brain needs time for certain concepts to sink in and this process often takes a while for most people.
Anyways once I started seeing a tiny bit of traction and sales, I began having more fun. And once I got a little better at marketing myself, I became hungry for more information. So I read books, blogs and watched videos, you name it. And slowly but surely, everything started to sink in.
Today, I have this weird conflicting mixture of Asian engineering blood and marketing blood all mixed inside of me. And even though I sometimes have to fight off my cultural tendencies and resist my engineering inclinations, I honestly think that I have half decent sales and marketing skills now:).
You Might Suck Now….
So when it comes to starting a business, creating websites, marketing your site or building an audience, know that you’re going to suck at it in the beginning. But the longer you keep at it, the better you’ll become.
Often times, it’s just a matter of getting over that initial hump. And once you start seeing a little progress, you might even grow to enjoy it. After all, we as humans tend to gravitate towards activities that we are good at.
Even the greatest minds all started from somewhere. The key is to start now and stop making excuses. Don’t ever tell yourself that you can’t do something because you suck at it. Anyone can learn.
photo credit: ewwhite
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