You’re Not Good Enough to Be Disappointed Yet

Photo of author

By James Clear


Dan John is a weightlifting coach. He is well-known in the fitness world for keeping things simple (and you should always fear a man with two first names). Recently I heard Dan John say:

I often tell my new athletes: “Sorry, you just are not good enough to be disappointed.”

In other words, in the beginning you need to get comfortable with feeling stupid, uncertain, and unskilled.

You’re not allowed to be disappointed by your performance because you haven’t developed your skills yet. It’s only the professionals that are allowed to be disappointed because they have put in the work to be better.

  • J.K Rowling is allowed to be disappointed if she writes a bad book because she put in 20 years of work to get good.
  • Kobe Bryant is allowed to be disappointed if he plays a bad game because he put in 20 years of work to become amazing.
  • Jack LaLanne was allowed to be disappointed with a bad workout because he trained for 60 years to stay fit.

But you and me? We’re not good enough to be disappointed yet. We’re bad enough to get to work.

Bad Enough to Get to Work

In the beginning, you’re still learning. You’re still developing. You’re still building. You haven’t developed enough competence to feel disappointed by your performance. You’re supposed to feel stupid and unskilled.

Of course, it’s easy to forget to give yourself some slack when you’re starting a journey that is important to you. Usually the people who have the least right to feel disappointed are the ones who get down on themselves the most.

  • We feel disappointed when we start a new job and don’t do it as well as we would like.
  • We feel disappointed when we set fitness goals for ourselves and don’t reach them.
  • We feel disappointed when we finally work up the courage to start our first business and it fails.
  • We feel disappointed when we write our first book and nobody reads it.
  • We feel disappointed when we pitch someone our great idea and they don’t care.

But the start is supposed to be a struggle. In fact, it’s all supposed to be a struggle. The approach of professionals is an indication of just how strongly struggle is linked to success. The Richard Bransons and Jerry Seinfelds and Tom Clancys of the world see failure as a signal to recommit to the process, not as a reason to wallow in disappointment.

And if that’s the way that the best in the world approach their craft, then that’s how you and I should approach our goals as well.

You’re not good enough to be disappointed. You’re bad enough to get to work.

This article originally appeared on JamesClear.com

Liked this post? Subscribe to our free newsletter for more great content on productivity, success, and how we work!

Image: clappstar/Flickr


Boost Your Productivity In 5 Minutes

Get daily tactics, insights, and tools to get more done.