Being Good at Being Bad

Most of us have a hard time being bad.

I’m not referring to breaking rules or being unpleasant, but to outright sucking at something. Unfortunately for our ego, being bad at something and knowing it, is an essential step to learning along the endless road to perfection. This concept applies to life overall, but it is especially pertinent to movement-based activities such as pole dancing or dancing in general.

You probably do not remember learning your mother tongue, but most likely recall hours spent practicing your first second language. Moving, and therefore dancing is our bodies’ way of expressing itself. If motions which occur daily are the mother tongue, then any extra movement patterns are second, third, fourth, fifth and so on languages. Our bodies are learning these new languages, to be able to better communicate in different situations.

Thankfully, the more languages you have already learned, the stronger the necessary neural pathways in the brain and easier it is to pick up new ones. Especially if the languages you know are closely related. Hence, students with a background in other dance or movement styles seem to excel more quickly when learning pole dancing compared to people who have been mostly physically inactive or individuals who have spent time practicing activities with little carry over to pole dancing (like volleyball for example).

Every time we try something new, it feels awkward.

This used to put me off going back to the new thing. Because obviously it was not for me, right? It felt weird, so I concluded I was not good at it.
This thought changed when I attended a workshop with Marlo Fisken who told us that ‘feeling awkward is great. It means that your body is going through a new movement pattern. You are not familiar with it, you don’t know where it’s going and you feel a bit unsafe.’
Guess what? Just like practicing those exotic sounding French words made it easier to pronounce them, doing that awkward thing again and again makes it progressively more natural. (Side note: awkward does not equal pain. If you are in pain do not repeat whatever caused it. See our next Blog Post – Good Pain vs Bad Pain)

So, we recognized we suck at something and it is not the end of the world. In fact allowing ourselves to suck at something new is actually an important part of the learning process.

Practice brings improvement. Importantly, practicing properly will help make us be better permanently, while practicing sloppily will make us sloppy permanently.

Repetition creates habit. Since habits are challenging to break the wiser choice is to create good habits from the start.

Recognizing that a new skill is above your current level can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Even more bitter is having to relearn that skill because you have created a habit of doing it incorrectly (which is often unsafe).
Sometimes we need to regress temporarily and work on strength or technique to support a specific trick or skill in order to progress. Knowing this takes experience. If you do not yet have the knowledge yourself, trust a qualified and experienced instructor to make the right choices for you.

If we get better at being bad at something and save time by practicing at the right level, we have the chance to be bad at more stuff.

So allow yourself to suck at stuff! It’s one of the best ways to improve.