[dropcap type=”1″]W[/dropcap]hat if ‘sucking’ really bad was really awesome? After reading this, you’ll understand why you’ll want to ‘suck’ more frequently than you do.

Earning More

I work with population of people in challenging situations. All have been incarcerated recently. All are parents. Many had a poor education experience and are low skilled. Mix in a history of substance abuse, poor habits, and a shaky support system and you have a cocktail of barriers tough for anyone to swallow.

As a career coach, my job is to help them find a job and keep it, regardless of the obstacles they face. It’s tough enough as it is, but I’ve come to realize that finding them employment still won’t do “the job” in the long run.

A job keeps them on the hamster wheel spinning indefinitely so I have to find a way for them to earn more from less effort so they can be more in control of their circumstances and their lives. What’s the benefit of our service if they have one or two jobs, are still struggling, and are never home with their families?

My colleagues and I have to offer participants more than employment, but what else can we do? Sure we offer housing, financial and legal services, but it’s still not enough to keep them out of poverty. What’s missing?

Skills To Pay The Bills

People are simply lacking the skills to monetize and thrive. If people do have valuable skills to offer, then they’re lacking some other skill required to make the most out of their situation.

Let’s define skill before I continue. I love Wikipedia’s definition:

A skill is the learned ability to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both.

Many people I know (not just our clients) have valuable skills to offer the world. They have skills that could be useful in other industries and sectors other than their own, but since they don’t fully realize the value they hold, they lack the skills to communicate that value to others who could benefit, thus missing out on opportunities day after day. You don’t have to be someone with a ton of barriers to lack the necessary skills to advance and grow.

For example, let’s say you have a skill that gets specific results, but you lack the ability to market that particular skill to others. You can do ‘X’ (skill) well and it produces results, but what if you don’t know your own market value (skill) and cannot communicate (skill) your value to others? Or, let’s say that you can communicate (skill) and market (skill) your value to others, but you’re a lousy negotiator (skill) so you’re not likely to get the best possible outcome for yourself.

So what’s the problem?

Are people simply low or no skilled in critical areas that produce an income that would place them in middle class range, and out of poverty?

Are people learning the wrong skills or are they ignorant of the skills that produce ongoing income while building assets?

Maybe people are great at one skill (producing income), but lousy at a complementary skill (managing their money)?

Maybe people just don’t understand the right combination of skills that would produce amazing results for them?

Skills are obviously a huge component of the solution, so how do we tackle the problem of low skills? What’s the right approach? What’s the best solution to implement that gets someone from low or no skilled to a level of competence that produces consistent results?

Marketable Skills

The first step to acquiring the ‘right’ skills is in identifying what they are. There must be a list of valuable skills that EVERYONE must have to get the most out of life. A list of general skills that allow one to earn money, work with others, manage their lives, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and grow personally and professionally.

Here’s a short list of absolutely necessary life skills:

General Skills

Communication: Listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Relationships: Likeability, connecting, empathy, resolving conflict, mediation, team building, and trust.

Organization: Punctuality, prioritizing, cleanliness, order, systems, and management.

Challenges: Identifying and understanding problems, critical thinking, creative problem solving, pattern recognition, and follow-through.

Finance: Managing money, spending, saving, investing, and building assets.

Personal: Focus, concentration, will power, persistence, creativity, developing habits, exercise, eating healthy, physical skills and labor, movement, emotional releasing, forgiveness, etc.

I believe all these are MUST HAVE skills if people are to maximize their experience on this planet. (I’m sure I left a lot off the list, so if you have suggestions please put them in the comments section, and I will fill the list out some more.)

Every skill has levels or degrees of competency. Think of how martial arts uses belts to demonstrate varying skill levels – white belt (low skill level) to black belt (high skill level). You may be a white belt in saving money, but hold a black belt in spending it. Probably not a good skill combination, but something to be aware of.

Let’s talk about some skills that will make you money, regardless of the work or industry you’re involved in.

Marketable Skills

Marketing: Knowing how to effectively communicate the benefits and advantages of a single person or an entire business so that the market WANTS to take access that person’s ability or that business’ product or service will always be a valuable skill. Whether you’re using this skill on your behalf or for someone else it will always be in demand.

Specialized marketing skills include: Writing resumes, interviewing, professional dress & appearance (yes, it’s a skill), copywriting, selling and closing deals, branding, and conducting presentations that influence people to act.

Organization: The whole idea behind organizing is to get things done faster and more efficiently. Getting things done and being productive will always be in-demand, but what are the skills associated with organization?

Setting goals, creating systems and checklists, managing those systems, prioritizing tasks and goals, strategy and pattern recognition, decision making, task management, and producing outcomes or results.

Technology: We live in a digital world where thing change so fast, so it makes sense to get with the program or get left behind. Unfortunately many of our participants are way behind when it comes to using technology.

Email, internet, MS Office (Word, Powerpoint, Outlook, and Excel), Google Docs and search engines, social media, content creation and strategy, programming & coding, and research.

What if you suck?

What if you suck at making money? You suck at creating value for others? You suck at solving problems? You suck at building a solid network of supporters? You suck at communicating your value? You suck at being on time? What if you also suck at dressing professionally?

There’s an obvious solution. If you suck, then your job is to un-suck yourself. You do that by learning skills that will produce awesome results for you and others.

And how do you learn those skills? By practicing them consistently.

Easy, right? Then why are people struggling? Why are people still so pathetically low skilled?

Because they’re not practicing consistently.

“Brilliant Paul, just brilliant.”

Ok, don’t get all cynical with me just yet, let’s look a little deeper first. Why aren’t people practicing or learning these skills consistently?

Let’s assume people know the EXACT skills they must have that will make them money on a regular basis. Let’s say these skills have been identified as the general skill-set that everyone MUST have to prosper in today’s economy.

Now it’s time to practice some of these skills, and here’s what you can expect:

If you haven’t practiced a skill before, you’re going to suck at it.

You may suck bad, or suck not so bad (hopefully you got some talent to minimize the sucking), but right before you start to get some competence in any particular skill, you QUIT.

You were so excited before you began. You REALLY wanted to learn spanish. You wanted to learn how to water ski. You wanted to learn how to network with business professionals. You wanted to learn MS Office, particularly Powerpoint so you can blow people away with your presentation skills.

And guess what? Before you could get anywhere with that new skill, you dropped it.

And you know why you dropped it? Because you SUCKED at it, and you knew it. Who wants to suck?? Nobody does.

But now we have a problem. By not ‘sucking’, you cannot learn that new skill. You are forever doomed to white belt. You are still crawling, not yet walking, and very far from running.

Can you imagine? A baby giving up on walking and saying, “Screw this. I’ll just crawl for life. This ain’t so bad.”

Can you imagine a world of crawlers, everywhere? “Hey, don’t step on me…” *crunch*

That’s what happens to low skilled people. They’re still crawling in a world of walkers and runners getting stepped or being climbed over.

Remember how you learned to walk? One day you just got up and fell down. You did it again and again. Slowly you kept your balance. You took a step, and fell down. You got up again, and fell again. But now you’re walking. You may be clumsy, but you’re walking.

You’re walking because you went through ‘suck’ to get there. You didn’t mind ‘sucking’ for so long because you were determined to walk. You were willing to deal with the ‘suck’ phase of acquiring the skill of walking. You were willing to look silly. You were willing to fall, and fall again. You were willing to deal with the snickering of those bastards that were entertained from all your trips and falls.

Ok, maybe not all that, but you get the point.

Now you’re older, and you forgot that acquiring any skill worth learning has its ‘suck phase’. You’re so much more aware of the snickers and comments now, even if they’re not there you’ll make some up. You’re sure the laughing in the background is directed at you as you make a fool of yourself.

You don’t want to be vulnerable or look stupid, but it costs you. It’s costing you money. It’s costing you growth. It’s costing you an awesome life.

Not willing to ‘suck’ is leading you to mediocrity. Not ‘sucking’ is giving you a life full of ‘suck’.

Why ‘Sucking’ Is Awesome

Acquiring any skill requires you to go through the ‘suck phase’. Sucking leads to competence. Competence gives you confidence. Confidence builds trust, not only within but with others.

Remember this:

Sucking is mandatory yet temporary in ALL skill acquisition.

In Josh Kaufman’s book, “The Personal MBA” he talks about how long it takes to acquire proficiency in any skill. You know how much time you need to devote to learning a new skill?

20 hours.

Yup, 20 hours, and you know how long you’ll suck during those 20 hours?

4 hours.

Just four. Of course that’s just an average. It could be 2-3 hours if you’re talented, or it could be 4-6 if you’re not, but once you get pass the ‘suck phase’, something will *click* and things will become easier. Things will slow down. You are now out of the demoralizing crawl zone and have taken your first steps toward walking. It’s only a matter of time before you start walking competently and confidently, and eventually running with abandon.


If having the necessary skills plays a big role in being self-sufficient, then acquiring skills in the fastest, most humane way possible is needed more than ever. This requires a great system, great feedback, and the burning desire to walk like a baby who’s fed up with crawling.

How many times have you said you’re going to learn a foreign language?

How many times have you said you’re going to write a book?

How many times have you said you’re going to learn how to fix cars?

How many times have you said you’re going to learn how to make some extra money on the side?

How many times have you said you’re going to lose weight, gain more muscle, and have the body of a god/goddess?

How many times have you said you’re going to learn how to tango, build websites, or scuba dive?

You start off hot with desire, then you suck, and then…… you quit.

I know, because I’ve gone through this process. Every question asked is directed to myself. People quit for all kinds of reasons, but I think the biggest is that people just don’t wanna suck. I hate sucking.

But I never realized how ‘sucking’ leads to everything I want. If I can get through the ‘suck phase’ of learning any skill, if WE can just get pass those first 4-5 hours we’re practically home free.

Join me

Pick a skill you want to learn.

Commit to doing it for at least 4 hours.

Commit to sucking bad for 4 hours, and don’t give up until those 4 hours are complete.

You will WITHOUT A DOUBT learn something new.

With new skills, who knows? Maybe we can live more abundantly and put an end to poverty? Maybe we can develop new technologies and lessen the footprint we have on this planet? Maybe we can have healthier relationships and families and stronger communities?

Let’s create a skill movement. How about an official ‘I Suck Day’ where everybody does something new, and sticks to it for 4 hours?

I’ll find a way to implement this systematically at work. I don’t know what that looks like, but it’s going to happen.

What will you do? What will you learn?

Whatever you do, one thing’s for certain.

You will suck. I will suck. Because it’s by ‘sucking’ that we eliminate the ‘suck’ from our lives.


Speaking of ‘sucking’, chapter 2 of my book is live on alienaesop.com. I know it can be improved, and the rewrite will be so welcome when I get more time to focus on it. I also plan on bringing an editor into the fray to guide me. I’ll let you know when that happens.

Video is on the horizon, too. I know I’ve been talking about it, but it’s coming. I know I suck on video, but there’s only one way to get better, right??

It’s October, so enjoy the change in seasons. More to come soon.

Paul “embracing the suck” Campillo