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Permission to be bad

Jay Clouse
Jay Clouse
2 min read

As I get older, I have a growing number of skills and abilities that I feel really confident in. It's one of my favorite parts of aging – I can feel myself getting better and better at things that I enjoy doing!

But on the other side of the coin...I feel more and more resistant to learning new things. It's painful to go into something fresh with no existing knowledge.

It feels slow.




I'm building a membership right now 🤫 and it felt like a good project to learn Ghost with. It was an uphill battle...but I'm starting to feel comfortable building in Ghost. I even feel comfortable doing some advanced customizations!

There were some limitations along the way, so I started learning Webflow too.

Oh, and while I was at it, I enrolled in a course to build out my video studio.

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That is three totally new, complex skills. And I have really high expectations of myself, so my patience with my own ineptitude is pretty thin.

I struggled at the beginning of all of them! My work felt sloppy, it didn't live up to my standards, and I wanted to flip a table and give up multiple times.

But of course I was bad at these things.

We start out as BAD at any skill we learn. It's part of the process! You're bad, then you're STILL bad but a little bit better, then you become slightly below average, then average, then above average...

There are a lot of steps before you're "good" at something – let alone mastery.

When we're young, we understand this intuitively. Even better – kids usually don't care that they're bad at the thing! They just enjoy the process.

It's as we get older that we start projecting OTHER peoples' judgment of our abilities and we develop a fear of being "bad" at something. Because if we're bad at something...we will look bad at something.

People will see it.

People will make judgments and assumptions.

What if being bad at this negatively impacts my brand?! 😱

But there's no way around it – to be GOOD at something, you must first be bad at it. If you aren't willing to be bad at something, you'll never be good.

And there are ways you can accelerate the learning process. Take a course, watch some YouTube tutorials, find a mentor, learn through copywork.

It's OK to be bad.

Let's go even further – you can wear "bad" as a badge of honor.

Being bad means that you're putting yourself out there. You're learning something new. You're stepping out of your comfort zone.

So think about a skill or ability you wish you had. You're going to be bad when you start working on that skill. That's OK!

I'm giving you permission to be bad.

Don't let the fear of being bad stop you from starting your journey to good.

Now that I've developed some competency with Ghost, Webflow, and video, I've eliminated some major constraints on my creative work. Because I was willing to be bad, now ALL of my work can get better and my GOOD work can become GREAT work.

Isn't that worth it?


Jay Clouse Twitter

Writer, podcaster, and community-builder helping people become professional creators. I write this blog and host Creative Elements, a narrative-interview podcast talking with today's top creators.

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