Permission to feel Awkward…

By , October 3, 2010 10:56 pm

“Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly in the beginning.”

Marshall Thurber, Business Consultant.

Sometimes when we’re learning something new we feel awkward, very conscious and uncomfortable. We want to be perfect straight away. We might give up because we’re not willing to pay the price of putting extra time in to break through the awkwardness.

Success is all about persistence, practice, discipline and sacrifice.

My Dad taught me how to drive. I got my provisional driving licence on my 17th Birthday. The day after, I had my first driving lesson.

The first time I sat behind the wheel of a car was an amazing experience. It was a dark January evening and I was so excited. Although I’d never driven before, I’d eagerly watched my Dad drive and learnt the theory of driving from the passenger seat.

That night I drove almost perfectly, changing gears with confidence as if I’d been driving for a while. It was amazing! When we arrived home my Dad proudly told my Mum that he thought I was a ‘natural’ and I’d easily pass my test!

After this lesson I thought that driving would be easy.

The next time I got in the car I was crap! For the next month my driving sucked! I was nervous, grinded the gears, mounted the curb and my confidence was soon reduced to zero. Learning to drive was overwhelming it seemed that there was so much to think about and do all at the same time.

I’d NEVER pass my test… I dreaded my lessons.

I was so frustrated. I’d driven well before, WHY couldn’t I just do it again?

I was frightened to make mistakes and I’d compare myself to that first lesson when I drove really well – I didn’t want to learn how to drive anymore!

Here’s what this experience taught me about learning:

1. Permission to feel Awkward – In order to learn something you have to give yourself permission to do things badly, screw up and be imperfect. Understand in advance that this is an essential part of learning and accept that this will happen sometimes as part of your learning journey. Let go of trying to be perfect and let yourself to be awkward. It’s okay!

2. Competence = Confidence = Control – You have to pass through the feeling awkward stage before you start to develop some competence. Practice, patience and persistence helps you to develop your competence. Competence allows you to feel more confident and feeling confident ultimately allows you to feel in control of the situation. You have to work through all three stages of this cycle and as you continue to learn, these elements become stronger.

3. Create Momentum – You have to be willing to show up on a bad day as well as a good day. You have to keep going despite looking silly or feeling very conscious of how stupid you feel. After a while competence kicks in and the awkwardness falls away.

Allow yourself permission to feel awkward…

It can be quite liberating!

5 Responses to “Permission to feel Awkward…”

  1. Mindfulmimi says:

    Hi Elaine,
    Tell me about it!!!! I am feeling akward now, trying to set up my own thing. And I know you felt the same just some time ago and probably will again soon :-)
    It’s all normal. Someone smart told me that we should learn to really live ALL of our emotions, that we we get through and over them better and faster. So when we grieve, we should just sit down and grieve, when we feel awkward, just feel it and see what it looks like. I am trying to do that now. It’f weird, it doesn’t feel normal. Because you just want to get out of that uncomfortable space. But it’s not so bad after a while :-)
    Thanks for sharing.
    M

  2. This is SO true. For the longest time, I thought something was WRONG with me as a performer cuz i didn’t feel as “COOL” as so many performers looked when I’d go see them. If someone had just told me to allow the uncomfortable – it would’ve given me such PERMISSION!

  3. Buddy Hodges says:

    Imagine what it must be like to be a two-year-old child! Learning to walk and talk, even at the same time! I think children are better learners because they have not yet learned to feel embarrassed about incompetence. Children also learn to use computers quicker because they are not afraid to make a mistake.

    Another point I learned from a Psychology Professor is that NOT everything worth doing is worth doing well. Because time is limited, choices are relative, and we have to be willing to SOME things merely adequately in order to do more things.

  4. Hi, Elaine! Great post. It’s so nice to know that feeling awkward is such an important part of life. If we never felt awkward, we’d be the most boring creatures ever! Hugs from Charleston!

  5. elaine says:

    Thanks everyone for the awesome comments!

    Miranda – keep working through that uncomfortableness – it’s okay

    Christine – Thanks so much for sharing – PERMISSION is such a liberating word!It might be my word of the year for 2011 ;-)

    Buddy – Thanks for stopping by and I totally agree child are the best learners!

    Laura – Hi there! You’re right – feeling awkward is an important part of life and it leads to growth and success, if we will just give it permission! Hugs from Yorkshire!

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