Don’t Worry…Be Crappy

Life is a humbling thing, yes?

I speak from years of experience, which have included plenty of moments that wound up…shall we say…imperfectly. Unsuccessful. Perhaps a bit embarrassing. (Followers of this blog will be keenly aware of this.)

Take, for example, my recent efforts to learn yoga…where even the simplest-seeming pose came out like this:

blog yoga

Or take my attempt to speak even mildly decent French at a McDonald’s in Paris…where I ordered a bag of apple slices and – I kid you not – got this instead:

blog burger

Or take every day that I sit at my computer trying to write something brilliant…where I often find myself doing this:

blog computer head

(note: photo taken at today’s actual writing session)

Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at being pretty crappy at some things.

To be clear, I hate being crappy at things. It’s not my intention, it’s frustrating. But I also know that sometimes it’s just necessary.

I first learned this concept from one of my favorite authorities on writing, Julia Cameron…who wrote (and I’m paraphrasing here) that in order to write something well we must first be willing to write it badly.

Now, since I feel this pertains to a lot more than writing…and since my own self-depricating history leaves me flinching at the word “badly”, I have changed and expanded the lesson to this:

In order to do something awesome, we must first be willing to do it crappy.

Stick with me on this.

We step out of our comfort zones all of the time.

  • We take the lead on a data-gathering project at the office for the first time
  • We cook a complicated Thai curry dish for the first time
  • We attempt to lay bathroom tile for the first time

We take up golf…sign up for a Flamenco class…try to figure out Microsoft Excel… for the first time.

And it’s great that we do this. Stepping out of our comfort zones is a tremendous thing. It’s how we experience new things, expand our lives, discover what interests us…and what doesn’t.

It’s when we find out just what we can do. Which turns out to be pretty much anything. In fact, we can become pretty awesome at it all.

Just not at first.

The problem with stepping out of our comfort zone to try something new is the ridiculous, unattainable goal we attach to it…the unfair expectation that we won’t just be awesome at it…but that we’ll be awesome at it immediately.

Which, let’s face it, is often just impossible.

And when we’re not awesome immediately we get frustrated:

  • We determine we are stupid because we can’t get our data numbers to crunch correctly
  • We decide we’re done cooking Asian cuisine because our curry didn’t come out spicy enough
  • We swear off home improvement projects forever because we can’t get the tile pattern to line up perfectly

We berate ourselves horribly…quit projects before we need to…worry we are just not good enough.

To which I say this:

Don’t worry…be crappy.

Instead of engaging in all of this nasty self-talk and self-doubt, we need to come to grips with reality. Which is that being crappy is a natural, often necessary step…one that leads us to being awesome.

We need to remind ourselves just how incredible it is that we are trying something new in the first place. We need to come to expect the crappy step as part of the process. We need to believe it will only be a matter of time that awesomeness will ensue. As long as we keep going.

It’s all about courage when you think about it.

Courage is not about doing something new and hoping it will be perfect.

It’s about doing something new and knowing it won’t be. At least not right away. And to keep right on going anyway. With everything you’ve got.

In the end, getting to awesome may not even take all that much time.

The important thing is to know that you’ll get there…to know that it’s all part of the journey.

And to know that you might even get to enjoy some new, fun, unexpected moments along the way.

blog burger happy

This week…

Try something new. Be crappy at it. Be nice to yourself when it happens.

And know that, if you keep going, you’ll get to awesome in no time.

Now, go do good…and do it well.

P.S. today’s post is dedicated to Irene Rosenhahn…one of the most awesome ladies that ever lived.


17 thoughts on “Don’t Worry…Be Crappy

  1. Penny Cook says:

    Love this post, Deidre! It is so true and serves as a great reminder. When did we forget the lesson we all learned as kids, “practice makes perfect?” Or as you said, crappy leads to awesome. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Penny Cook says:

      Sorry, auto-corrected…Deirdre!

    2. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Thanks much, Penny…I hadn’t even thought that I’d taken a new spin on an old cliche classic. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Liz says:

    This post couldn’t be more appropriately timed. Speaking tomorrow and public speaking is definitely “pushing me out of my comfort zone”. Knowing this I accepted the challenge… Thanks for inspiring!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Well congrats for taking the challenge Liz…that’s the most important, awesome part. Best of luck with your speaking gig!

  3. Hey, Deirdre –

    So true, so true. I was lucky enough to hear Muffy Davis, 3-time Gold Para-Olympic Champion, speak at the NAWBO National Conference (missed hearing you this year) last week. A phrase she used which really caught my attention was “Be YOUR Best”…NOT be someone else’s best. Your best is Your best. Someone else’s is someone else’s. So, to push it even beyond the ‘don’t worry, be crappy’ point of view…do YOUR best…it’s OK if it is less than someone else’s best, as long as it is YOUR BEST. I have to face the fact that I am not athletically gifted, and if I try to do something, I will NOT be “the best” at what I attempt, but I CAN be MY BEST. If I’ve done that, then I’ve been ‘true to myself’ and shouldn’t feel guilty/embarrassed/whatever.

    Thanks for the reminder/permission!


    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      That’s so true, Sandy…love that life is about being YOUR best. If you just keep reaching for that, life just keeps on getting better…and a lot more interesting! Sorry I couldn’t be at NAWBO this year…hope to see you next time around!

  4. Lisa says:


    Thanks so much for sharing. I am going through a CRAPPY stage!? Wish I wasn’t, but reading this helped me to accept it and know that it WILL get better and so I will be GREAT and not Crappy! I hope to copy and post on FaceBook if you don’t mind!?!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Good for you, Lisa…and trust me, so many of us are going through a crappy stage on SOMETHING going on in our lives! Please feel free to copy and post on FaceBook…and just use the link itself it you don’t mind (or mention the website where you found it). Appreciate our willingness to share the message!

  5. Patty says:

    Thank you Deirdre for such an animated and well needed reminder especially for those of us who suffer the “guilt ” syndrome. shoulda/coulda/woulda. Someone once said, “don’t should on yourself! I know that some of my mistakes have led to some of my successes.
    Great topic!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Great point about the guilt, Patty! Not only do we worry and berate ourselves, but we feel guilty when we aren’t perfect as well…but no longer, right?! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Rancy says:

    This is an excellent post! I love the idea of endeavoring to work outside your comfort zone and be okay with comfortable, no, excited by the prospect of not doing something well the first time, or even the 10th time you try it. Thanks!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      My pleasure Rancy…and you’re so right. Even if it’s the 10th time, it’s still worth the ride and the result. Thanks for the comment!

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