written by
Srinivas Rao

Karen Rinaldi: It's Great To Suck at Something

2 min read

These are cliff notes from an episode of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast

Sucking at something, well ... sucks. But maybe there is a different way to look at that. Karen joins Srini for a fascinating conversation about books, surfing, beginner’s mindset and possibilities that can open to us if we are willing to suck at things. Favorite takeaways are listed for you.

1. Karen works in publishing and as a writer and is, therefore, an avid reader. She also instilled a love for books into her two sons because she framed reading as a reward rather than as a punishment.

2. She spoke extensively about working in a creative profession. This type of work is difficult on many levels, it does not come with financial benefits or the outside recognition, but it provides inner fulfillment that is often enough to keep people going.

3. Karen went back and forth in publishing and found it frustrating but also could not let go. The best advice she got was to Stick with it for a period of time. That helped her build the skills and reap greater benefits.

4. Either through marketing or social media, We are often sold shortcuts and magical solutions that will fix all of our problems. In reality, everything worthwhile takes work, commitment, and resilience and there are no easy fixes.

5. When Karen speaks to authors and creators, one of the most frequent questions is ‘how do I get published?’. Karen claims that this is a wrong question because it disempowers the creator, puts the end goal outside of his control and removes the focus from the process, which is where all the joy and fun are. Publishing is just a cherry on the top.

6. A big part of the conversation revolves around sucking at things. At an older age, people are not willing to try new things because of fear and perfectionism. Instead, we get addicted to goal setting, accomplishment, rewards, and recognition. In other words, we play it safe and what we forget is that difficult things give us more inner satisfaction than checking boxes and playing it safe.

7. Often times, we won’t start new things and suck at them because of the fear of what will people think of us. Ironically, people don’t think about you or me, people mostly think about themselves and their own lives. Also, when we are willing to be vulnerable and publically suck at something, people are often generous and empathetic and willing to help.

8. Sucking is a transferable skill. Sucking at one thing gives us permission to suck in more things and normalize it as a part of the learning process.

9. People are also not willing to suck at things because of their fear of humility. Sucking requires great humbleness, and interestingly enough, both words come from the same origin. Sucking at something requires openness and openness cannot be selective. If we are not open to failure, we can’t be open to success either.

10. To be unmistakable, according to Karen, you must be willing to iterate and show up again and again for the thing you care about.

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