Do something you suck at

With a new year, I like most people, set some goals. I am neither a resolution person, nor a big sweeping change-the-world on January 1 type of person. No for me, I am pretty simplistic in my goal making and I focus on what I like to do, which is to run. I decide what races I will run, then move onto what that means from a training perspective and then I break that down to monthly miles.

I am not going to win any races or even bring much challenge to my age bracket for that matter, it’s not about the competition for me. I do it because I enjoy running and my family would say I am nicer when I am consistent with it. Plus, it gives me a sense of purpose even when the world around me is as unpredictable as it has been since the pandemic’s start.

Over the last two years, there’s been a lot written on overcoming adversity and learning to be resilient. Resilient individuals and organizations are able to bounce back because they focus on what they can control and where they can impact change. They are willing to see success and failure as a package deal. Meaning, that the greatest successes often come with the most risk, the risk of failure. It’s the concept of cultivating a growth mindset. So how do you do that? I think the answer is actually pretty simple: Do something you suck at.

Though the answer may be simple and I have been giving this piece of advice for over a year, even picking my thing that I suck at – playing piano – I just haven’t been able to do it. Why? Because it’s hard for me and naturally, we don’t like to do things that are difficult. I took piano lessons as a kid and I hated having to practice, the lessons and the recitals. I was just terrible, so when my Mom finally relented and let me quit, I closed the lid on the keys and never looked back. Now, 30 years later, I realize that this is something I should do. Unlike running which, I enjoy and prioritize in my life, I should do something totally outside my comfort zone. Something I have failed at in the past. Something that challenges my brain to think in a different way. So, finally, the weekend of Christmas, I sat down at our piano and tried to play.

I am awful & that’s ok

Three Saturday afternoons into this piano playing endeavor and I can play Jingle Bells, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Ode to Joy. I use the key card cheat sheet. I googled helpful hints to remember the order of the notes. I also bought a book of songs titled, The Easiest of Easy Piano Songs and the majority of them are completely beyond me. In a nutshell, I suck at playing piano. But that’s ok. Both personally and professionally I am learning some extremely valuable lessons about perspective:

  • I am learning humility. Sitting down at the piano has made me extremely humble. I have had to remind myself that perfection is not needed nor in this case, is it even possible. I find the more I try, the more I want to try and that I look forward to my attempt-to-make-some-music time on the weekends. Persistence is what I can give to this endeavor and I have resolved to be ok with that.
  • I am learning to celebrate the small stuff. I let out a woo-hoo when I finally played Jingle Bells all the way through AND with both hands! It made me realize that each day we have the opportunity to celebrate some small victory and that we absolutely should. Little by little, I am teaching myself to do something that is really hard for me. I am forging new thought paths in my brain and celebrating my little victories as they come.
  • I am learning the joy of wonder. This might be the most important lesson for me, remembering the joy of learning something new. Someone called me a CU veteran the other day and that’s true. Professionally, I am experienced and seasoned. Learning to play the piano again has reminded me of the joy of wonder. It’s important to harness the wonder of our new employees and those new to our industry. Often times we can forget to listen to those who are discovering something new. There are some big Aha moments that we miss when we dismiss the joy of wonder. Did you know A sharp is the same as B flat?!

So, as we start 2022, what is your do something you suck at goal? I hope you’ll add one to your list of things to accomplish this year. I will be running a few races and working on my mileage goal, but I will also be sitting at the piano, torturing my family and maybe, just maybe by year-end, confidently pounding out a few of those easiest of easy tunes!

Bryn C. Conway

Bryn C. Conway

Bryn C. Conway, offers more than 15 years of experience as a former credit union executive with extensive background in strategic planning, brand development, member experience, retail delivery and public ... Web: Details