Sunday, November 12, 2006


I suck at rock climbing.

I’m not sandbagging. I’ve learned a few things, executed a few cool moves, and climbed some stuff that would’ve given me fits last spring. Still, nobody carries my rope bag to the crag or my shoes on a golden pillow. 5.8 routes still leave me hanging off the end of the rope long before the anchor shows up.

I know I’m no good, but I’m not taking up residence in Suck City. I’m on the first outbound train, just as soon as I have the skills to pay for the ticket. It won’t be incredibly hard—dedicated bouldering and some isometric strength work should make me a certified rock jock.

I know it’s possible because I’ve done it in other contexts. Crossfit, for one. Started shitty, worked hard, got better. Karate—same deal. I even learned to do Calculus on the second try. Somewhere along the line, struggling turns into plodding turns into firebreathing ass-kicking. You just have to keep pushing.

There’s a name for this stuff: potential. If you can’t do it now, but you could conceivably do it in the future, you’ve got potential. There are sign-posts for potential—solid work ethic, flashes of brilliance, consistency, and steely-eyed determination are the marks of an up-and-coming champion.

Somewhere along the line, the world has called for the addition of humility to this mix. If you’re not good now, but you know you will be soon, just keep your head down and keep professing super-suckdom.

Fuck that.

False humility pisses me off. It makes me feel like Dennis Leary on methamphetamine holding a cocked shotgun.

Ever compliment someone on a job well done and get the Forrest Gump-aw-shucks-gee-golly it was nothing? You know they’re full of shit and they just want to hear you say it again.

If you’re going to be good and you know it, yell it loud. Stand up on the table in the middle of your performance review, and tell your boss you’re going to be the best damn vacuum cleaner salesman in the world. Or whatever. Investment banker, cashier, cop, artillery gunner, it doesn’t matter.

You’re going to be the best, and you know it.

Humanity hates ego. It also hates self-pity, incompetence, and any form of laziness. Either end of the spectrum, and you’re not getting the time of day. This middle of the road, head down attitude produces mildly self-respecting, moderately competent lumps. You’ll have an ergonomic office chair, a solid pension, a bloated 401k, and absolutely no shot at greatness.

Sounds fabulous.

I’m here to burn humility at the stake. Douse it in kerosene and throw on a match. Men and women who achieve the impossible first have to believe that the feat is not, in fact, impossible. You’ve got to have the cajones to say “Yeah, nobody else could pull it off, but hell, you guys suck”, and walk straight into the battle, ignoring the cries of the doom-sayers.

You’ve got to have ego. With a capital fucking “E”. Ego.

Blasting your designs of greatness over the town loudspeakers has a polarizing effect. Some folks are going to hate you for being so damn full of yourself. Others are going to love you for lobbing hand grenades at convention. Either way, there’s going to be a shitstorm.

If you believe you have the potential to be great, you need to scream it from the rooftops. Nothing creates commitment in the human mind like verbalization. Say it over and over, as loud as you can. Tell your friends. You’ll be hard-pressed to back away from your assertions, and you’ll create a virtuous cycle that ends at the top of the leaderboard.

Don’t cling to the idea that you have to please everyone all the time—you’ll turn into a placating pile of “sure, I’ll wash your dog.”

The potential to be great is counteracted by the potential to crash and burn. These things come in the same container, and you don’t get one without the other. If you’ve got the pluck to declare war on the world, you’re going to take your lumps.

But at least you won’t suck.

Go faster!

Photo of Muhammad Ali towering over Sonny Liston courtesy of


Blogger John said...

As always - great writing!

Today, I'm going to kick ass and do a brutal workout at 0700 - from there, my meals will be meticulous. If you don't feel like joining cause you're comfy and happy with mediocriy...... you suck!

Thanks for he motivation bro!!!

11/13/2006 09:26:00 AM  

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