Tap into the Power of Positive Sucking

I suck. And so do you.

Okay, I think I need to elaborate a bit. There are times in life when we all suck. And by suck, I mean fail.

Sometimes, you don’t get that dream job. You don’t win the heart of a particular romantic partner. You don’t make the sports team. You get the idea.

We all suck sometimes. Let’s call this phenomenon “suckage.” Here’s what I want you to do: always look for something positive when it comes to your failures. The trick is to not dwell on the negative side of your suckage.

What’s the Power of Positive Sucking?

You may have heard of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. Well, I believe there is also the “power of positive sucking.”

In other words, it benefits us to change our perspective on failure so we see it as a necessary part of the success process. Allowing ourselves to learn from our suckage is part of the iterative nature of creation. We have to be brave enough to test ideas despite the threat of sometimes-negative criticism or ridicule.

As Teddy Roosevelt said, “it is not the critic who counts…the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who errs, who comes short again and again…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”

I’ve discussed the importance of failure before, but I had a recent encounter with my own suckage that hit close to home for me again:

startup-story-slam-logoI competed at a StartUp StorySlam event, where entrepreneurs share their stories of success as well as failure. It’s a very cool and refreshing departure from the typical networking event.

Of course, I wanted to win.

As any speaker worth their salt knows, rehearsing beforehand is vital to a good performance. I did indeed practice my speech before the StorySlam. However, I know for sure I could have done more to prepare. But I let myself get distracted by activities that were definitely less important, such as binge watching a few TV shows.

On the night of the StorySlam, I scored pretty well with the judges. But I missed some points I wanted to make in my speech, points I know I would have remembered if I’d practiced more.

So yeah, I fell prey to a little bit of suckage. But I get to choose how I react to that suckage. Instead of beating myself up for not rehearsing enough, I can learn lessons about how to approach my next speech. And I’ve already set my sights on a future StorySlam to test my skills again.

The Importance of Small Wins

Human beings are hardwired to seek out the negative. It’s an important evolutionary defense mechanism that has helped us survive for millennia. The problem is, it’s all too easy to let ourselves slip into an unthinking negativity habit.

This bias has created the vicious circle of our 24/7 negative news cycle:

  • Networks focus on negative news, and use dramatic music, graphics, and editing to heighten the effect
  • As a result, many viewers develop a skewed perception of the world, seeing it as a place dominated by negative events.
  • This in turn makes viewers demand more coverage of our “bad old world,” so that they can keep informed and avoid the “dangers” they now believe lurk all around us.

But we all can work on becoming mindful of our negativity bias, so we don’t limit ourselves with a constant “doom and gloom” vision of the world.

Don’t fixate on the negative. Instead, focus on “small wins.” (click to Tweet this!)

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about the idea of small wins, which are “a steady application of a small advantage.” Celebrating the achievement of smaller goals allows us to believe that bigger victories are possible. The reason many people fail to reach goals is because they often psych themselves out by trying to tackle milestones that are too ambitious.

Challenge: Love the Suckage!

Anthony Simeone - Conquering Negativity Bias WorksheetI challenge you to start loving the suckage that you encounter in life. When failure happens and things don’t go your way, get into the habit of telling yourself to see the benefits buried in the bad stuff.

To help you with this exercise, download this free worksheet! It will help you work through sucky situations, by taking ownership of any responsibility you may have and then looking for silver linings.

It will also help you think about possible small wins, lessons learned, and how you can start changing things for the positive.

Let me know if the worksheet helps, and don’t forget to leave a comment here to share stories of how you’ve embraced your suckage!

Author: Anthony Simeone

I'm a writer, speaker, and an advocate for everyday heroism. I have over two decades of experience in the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of my work is the Live the Hero program, a life philosophy that promotes personal development combined with service to others. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to research in heroism science and positive psychology. You can learn more at livethehero.com.

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