One of the fastest ways to grow is to put ourselves in situations where we are inexperienced or even incompetent.
I took the opportunity the other day to join in an open Pickleball night at the local rec center. This was my second time ever playing in my life, and while I had a great time, I commented to a friend the next day,
You can only be the worst at something for so long, and then you have to leave 😉
This feeling was most pronounced in my final game. I was paired with a fairly experienced player, against two other experienced players. I was clearly the weak link. My shots were inconsistent and my partner was not able to carry us. We ended up losing 2-11.
After leaving, a few lessons stuck out to me. First, recognizing that I was an inferior player made me extremely humble. I was ready and eager to accept any instruction, hint, or encouragement from other players. While I am a fairly competitive person, it is hard to get too worked up when I know from the beginning that I am likely to lose. So being the worst changed my attitude and approach.
You often hear the virtues of a “beginner’s mind” extolled as a way to stay open to new ideas and to be able to learn from anywhere. Having this mindset allows you to be more pliable and teachable as you recognize how much you stand to learn. When you are not only a beginner, but the only beginner amongst non-beginners, this experience is heightened considerably.
Finally, being the worst removes you from the dangerous grip of imposter syndrome. This often creeps in when you start to fear that others view you as more capable than you feel, and worry that you will be discovered. When you are clearly the worst, that fear is washed away. No one thinks you are better than you are, although the reality is that you are almost certainly better than you think you are.
If you have the psychic resilience, regularly putting yourself in situations where you are the worst is a fantastic way to learn and grow. You will have empathy for those who are worse than you in other aspects of your life. Just make sure that in your quest to gain compassion for others, you preserve a healthy dose of compassion for yourself as well. You are going to need it.