How to Passionately Suck at Things and Still Win

By sean Kernan

Feel better about your life is spreading out your skillsets and releasing your ego.

It’s easy to feel demoralized in a world where talent is hyper-visible. No matter how good you are at something, there’s a 13-year-old on YouTube who could totally own you at it.

Think you’re good at chess? Watch this blindfolded 13-year-old beat five adults at once. Think you’re good at piano? Here’s a one-armed tween playing Flight of the Bumblebee.

More than two decades ago, I was a lanky 15-year-old, warming the bench on my high school basketball team.

That summer, between seasons, I walked over to the military base and played with off-duty sailors. Many of them were standouts in high school and college. Many could still run like the wind and windmill dunk while wearing a backpack.

I suspect they eventually faced the tough reality that, unless you’re in the top .01% of a sport, you’ll need to get a regular job.

Seven basketball courts filled the huge industrial warehouse. Every time I stepped into the building, I was greeted by a crescendo of bouncing basketballs and shouts from varying distances.

The entrance to the building felt like a portal to another dimension. There wasn’t a single day where I didn’t see grown men shouting, screaming, or fist-fighting over a pickup game. You’d have thought one of them owed the other money that was long overdue.

It also wasn’t uncommon that I was the only white dude and, candidly, the least vertical guy on the court. I called myself “The Great White Nope”. Coordination, speed, ball awareness, were all absent from my athletic gifts. The only thing I had going for me was that I was tall.

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