tennis ball hitting net

I Suck, How To Get Over It

You can’t be good at everything, especially not right off the bat. But sometimes, that concept is hard to grasp when you keep trying and trying and you don’t feel as though you’re getting any better. Ferne has been playing tennis for months now, and she doesn’t feel like she’s improving; she gets frustrated when she loses or misses the ball.

She knows that her frustration isn’t helping her become a better player, but she doesn’t know how to get rid of the frustration. In this episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, Ferne asks Kim for advice on how to fix her frustration.

Episode Transcript


[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I'm the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. Today is the Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, featuring my beautiful, lovely, incredible daughter, Ferne. Welcome.  

[00:00:21] Ferne Kotlyar: Wow, what an intro. Thank you!  

[00:00:23] Kim Ades: I know, right?  

[00:00:24] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] So sweet.  

[00:00:26] Kim Ades: So what's up? What's happening? What's on your mind today?  

[00:00:30] Ferne Kotlyar: So today I wanted to talk about something that happened to me recently.  

[00:00:34] Kim Ades: Okay.  

[00:00:35] Ferne Kotlyar: I have been playing tennis for the summer. I just started this summer, I'm not very good. But I did just start and I've been playing all summer, and we keep going to the courts like several times a week, my boyfriend and I, and will play and it's fine, but then I look around me and everyone's so much better than me.  

We'll start playing a game and he'll consistently beat me, and I just feel so incompetent. Like, I feel like I'm so bad and that I haven't been improving. And it really gets to me and it really saps my energy, and I get into this kind of cycle where I feel like... I suck and then I feel bad because I'm letting my thoughts affect me and then it just gets worse from there.  

And it's really... You know, it's kind of embarrassing to talk about because I don't-- you know, it's obviously a weakness, I don't wanna talk about how, not only that I suck, but that I don't take it well. So how do I overcome this?  

[00:01:37] Kim Ades: Well, let me ask you a question. How do you know you suck and how do you know you're not improving?  

[00:01:42] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, I feel like I suck because I'm always losing.  

[00:01:44] Kim Ades: Okay.  

[00:01:44] Ferne Kotlyar: I mean, when we play a game, I lose consistently.  

[00:01:47] Kim Ades: Okay.  

[00:01:47] Ferne Kotlyar: I miss a lot of the balls, I hit too hard or far or...  

[00:01:53] Kim Ades: Do you miss all the balls?  

[00:01:54] Ferne Kotlyar: Most? Not most, some of them. A lot of them, yeah.  

[00:01:57] Kim Ades: Do you miss most of the balls?  

[00:01:59] Ferne Kotlyar: A lot of them.  

[00:02:00] Kim Ades: Okay. But do you get some of them?  

[00:02:03] Ferne Kotlyar: Sure. I don't know that I get them well.  

[00:02:07] Kim Ades: Okay, but how many balls do you get?  

[00:02:09] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't know.  

[00:02:11] Kim Ades: Like 10%?  

[00:02:14] Ferne Kotlyar: Probably more than 10.  

[00:02:15] Kim Ades: 50%?  

[00:02:16] Ferne Kotlyar: Maybe 60%.  

[00:02:17] Kim Ades: 60%! And how many balls did you get when you started?  

[00:02:22] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't know.  

[00:02:24] Kim Ades: You have no idea?  

[00:02:24] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't remember.

[00:02:25] Kim Ades: You don't remember?  

[00:02:26] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't know that I was... Yeah, I don't know that I get that many more of them now, rather--  

[00:02:33] Kim Ades: But you don't know.  

[00:02:36] Ferne Kotlyar: So, what's the point? Like...  

[00:02:40] Kim Ades: What's the point?  

[00:02:41] Ferne Kotlyar: What are you trying to get across here?  

[00:02:43] Kim Ades: What am I trying to get across? I feel that a lot of times we don't use the right measurements to determine whether or not we are actually improving.

[00:02:53] Ferne Kotlyar: And what are the right measurements?  

[00:02:54] Kim Ades: Well, what we do is we look around, we see how other people are performing and then we decide we're not doing very well. So I do it too, or I used to do it. Every time I left an airport-- Every time I was in an airport, everybody walked faster than me. Everybody! Even like the 95 year old women.

[00:03:13] Ferne Kotlyar: Why is it only in an airport?  

[00:03:15] Kim Ades: I don't know, because that's where you're walking by people and they're like walking fast, right? And I can never walk fast in an airport. I don't know why, but it's the airport problem. And I always look around and everybody's passing me and I think to myself "why do they always pass me? Why am I so slow? Why do I suck at walking?"  

[00:03:34] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]  

[00:03:35] Kim Ades: Right? I look at everybody else and I notice that they're all faster than me. But I'm using them as my benchmark, not me. And when I use the outside world as my benchmark, that's a problem.  

[00:03:50] Ferne Kotlyar: So what should you be using as a benchmark?  

[00:03:52] Kim Ades: So I started to use a different benchmark. I started to use... You know, I used to get onto the treadmill, and it's ridiculous, but if I started to walk faster, like if I started at a higher speed, I'd get terrible leg pains. I'd get cramps in my legs, so I would start at 1.8 miles per hour. I'd do that for a minute, and then I'd go to 1.9, then 2, then 2.1, 2.2... Right?  

[00:04:19] Ferne Kotlyar: Why is your treadmill in American?  

[00:04:22] Kim Ades: I don't know. It's an American treadmill.  

[00:04:25] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]  

[00:04:25] Kim Ades: But that's not the point. [Chuckles] The point is that I would have to start at 1.8 in order to not get cramps. But you know what? I walk like three, four or five times a week on the treadmill and now I start at 2.4.  

[00:04:41] Ferne Kotlyar: Wow!  

[00:04:42] Kim Ades: Right? And I don't get cramps.

[00:04:44] Ferne Kotlyar: That's a big--  

[00:04:45] Kim Ades: I don't get cramps! There you go. There's my measurement. And now I start at a faster rate. That's a miracle for me. And...  

[00:04:54] Ferne Kotlyar: You pass people at the airport.  

[00:04:57] Kim Ades: I pass a couple of people at the airport. Not everybody. Mostly, they still pass me, but I pass a couple of people sometimes. Now, again, it doesn't matter, but I'm saying the measurement needs to be an internal measurement. You need to measure yourself against yourself. And when I ask you, "where did you start?" And you say "I really don't know", you have no benchmark, no accurate benchmark to measure yourself against in terms of really determining your improvement.  

[00:05:28] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, let's put this into a practical application.  

[00:05:31] Kim Ades: I thought that was pretty practical.

[00:05:32] Ferne Kotlyar: No, I mean, how do I measure myself in terms of tennis?  

[00:05:36] Kim Ades: Okay. So how do you measure yourself right now? You're measuring yourself against the person you're playing, and you're like "I can't beat him". Okay, he's a better tennis player than you.  

[00:05:46] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but also you look around and like you said, everyone pass you, but like you see these older people who aren't necessarily that in shape and they're like smashing the ball across the court, and you're like--- I can't even get a serve! I mean, I could get some serves, but--  

[00:06:04] Kim Ades: Yes.  

[00:06:05] Ferne Kotlyar: My goal is to get it in the court, not even to like do it well, you know?  

[00:06:08] Kim Ades: Okay, so you have to determine, and you might use your boyfriend to help you determine "what are measurements of my own improvement?" perhaps the "measurements of my own improvement" are going from 60% of the balls that I get to 70. Maybe that's one measurement. Another measurement is--  

[00:06:28] Ferne Kotlyar: How do you-- That's not like--  

[00:06:29] Kim Ades: How often do I get it in the square that I'm supposed to get it in.  

[00:06:33] Ferne Kotlyar: But how do you measure that? Do you count?  

[00:06:35] Kim Ades: Sure. Why not?  

[00:06:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Because how are you keeping track? Like, every time you get it in, you go run down to your phone, put a little tick mark, come back?  

[00:06:43] Kim Ades: No, you just go "1, 2, 3" and count.  

[00:06:49] Ferne Kotlyar: But you have to count the ones you didn't get, so you get a percentage.  

[00:06:51] Kim Ades: No, you just count the ones you did get. It's a game. The game is... Last how long?  

[00:06:57] Ferne Kotlyar: An hour, but--  

[00:06:58] Kim Ades: Okay, so in an hour I got six. Next time, this hour I got 26. Count.

[00:07:08] Ferne Kotlyar: We may need to consider other practical solutions.  

[00:07:12] Kim Ades: That's fine, you can. But the point is you wanna compare your performance to your performance. You wanna compare your performance before to your performance now. You wanna measure your improvement against your past performance, not somebody else's.  

[00:07:30] Ferne Kotlyar: So you don't think competition is a good thing?

[00:07:32] Kim Ades: I do think competition is a good thing, but I think that when you're building up a skill and you are trying to look at how other people are performing and it serves to make you feel bad, I don't think it's a good thing. I don't think feeling bad about your performance improves your performance. I think feeling bad about your performance reduces your performance, because now, not only are you trying to work on your skills, you're also trying to work with your head that says "I suck", and the minute you say "I suck" is the minute your performance diminishes.  

[00:08:05] Ferne Kotlyar: So how do you get that voice out of your head? Even if you count, let's say you count and now you're doing worse than the last time. Like, that's upsetting. You feel like you're not improving and there's an accurate measurement of the fact that you're not improving, so that feels worse. So how do you stop feeling bad?  

[00:08:21] Kim Ades: Well, then you say "okay, so let's look at technically what I'm doing and how do I improve", right? "Oh, so last time I was wearing these shoes" or "last time I wasn't facing the sun" or "last time..." and you start to pay a little bit more close attention to the skillset involved in your performance. Right?  

And you have to block everybody out because, to be honest, if I said, "Hey there's no way I'm starting at 1.8 to walk on the treadmill because it's so slow. A baby walks that slow", then I'd never get on a treadmill and I'd never improve. So I kind of have to accept where I am. I have to accept my starting point.

I have to say "it's okay if I'm walking at 1.8, even though it's ridiculously slow". I accept it. I take it and that's my starting point. It's okay if I suck. It's okay--  

[00:09:16] Ferne Kotlyar: It's okay if you suck now? Or... Are we supposed to accept the fact that we suck or that I suck? Or am I supposed to say "I don't suck and I'm just improving"? Because those are two very different things.

[00:09:27] Kim Ades: I'm saying "it's okay that I'm not a tennis pro in my first month".  

[00:09:34] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but are you supposed to accept the fact that you suck or are you supposed to change the dialogue in your head and say "wait, actually I don't suck, I'm just learning"?  

[00:09:41] Kim Ades: You could do that too. You could also say... That's a smarter thing to say. But it's also okay to say, "Hey, I'm not gonna be as good as the old guy on the court who's smashing it, who's probably been playing this game for the past 40 years of his life".  

[00:09:58] Ferne Kotlyar: So then are you saying I should lower my expectations?  

[00:10:01] Kim Ades: I'm saying don't compare yourself to others. I'm saying compare yourself to you. I'm saying use a different form of measurement of success.  

[00:10:09] Ferne Kotlyar: But at the end of the day--  

[00:10:10] Kim Ades: And I'm also saying, decide to go play tennis 'cause it's fun. Not go play tennis 'cause you gotta beat someone.  

[00:10:19] Ferne Kotlyar: It's not about beating someone, it's about improving. It's about the fact that I've been doing this for three months and I wanna see that I'm getting better.  

[00:10:26] Kim Ades: But here's the funny part. You have no idea if you're getting better, you just think you're not, because you haven't measured it properly.  

[00:10:35] Ferne Kotlyar: But that doesn't mean that like, even if you measure it properly and you notice that you're not getting better, it's still-- The feeling's the same.  

[00:10:42] Kim Ades: But you don't know. You don't know and it's okay. You may never be amazing at tennis, that doesn't mean it's not worth playing.  

[00:10:50] Ferne Kotlyar: Thanks... [Chuckles lightly]  

[00:10:52] Kim Ades: It's okay. What does that mean about you? It means nothing. I will never be an amazing ballerina.  

[00:11:00] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but what if it applies to more than just tennis? What if it applies to coding? Like, I'm learning R at school, it's a coding language and I have to use it for data analysis. And at the beginning I was so bad, I mean, it's literally a different language. I was terrible and I was so frustrated and angry. And then you tell me "oh... well, it's okay for you to suck..."

[00:11:22] Kim Ades: [Laughs]  

[00:11:22] Ferne Kotlyar: "And you may never actually be that good". Okay, well, thanks. I actually need this for the rest of my career, so that feels really good.

[00:11:29] Kim Ades: Okay, so [Laughs] Hey audience, welcome to a real conversation with me and my daughter. , it's a bit funny.  

[00:11:40] Ferne Kotlyar: Why??  

[00:11:41] Kim Ades: Because... Okay, let's go to R. So when you need something for your career, you have options. A) you persist and you be patient. But getting mad and getting pissed off and getting frustrated, doesn't help your performance. It never does.  

[00:11:59] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but that's the whole question is, how do I avoid getting frustrated? I understand that.  

[00:12:03] Kim Ades: You say Hey, "I gotta give myself a break". You say "Hey, this isn't gonna happen overnight. Hey, let me keep trying". And here's the funny thing is--  

[00:12:15] Ferne Kotlyar: But the question is how--  

[00:12:17] Kim Ades: You are one of the most persistent people I've ever met in my whole entire life, but why do you need to go through the whole drama of beating yourself up? You know what's funny? I read something today and the thing I read was, what is your favorite emotion? What's your favorite emotion?  

[00:12:34] Ferne Kotlyar: Me?  

[00:12:35] Kim Ades: Yeah!  

[00:12:35] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't know, passion, excitement, love.  

[00:12:39] Kim Ades: Ah, ah, passion. I think it is. But sometimes that passion is positive, sometimes that passion isn't so positive. Sometimes that passion is "I'm so frustrated because I can't play tennis well!"  

[00:12:52] Ferne Kotlyar: I didn't say that.  

[00:12:54] Kim Ades: I'm just saying it's still passion. It's passion on both sides. So sometimes we get addicted to an emotional state that doesn't always serve us.  

[00:13:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay. So I've heard multiple pieces of advice here. [Laughs]  

[00:13:12] Kim Ades: Yes. What did you hear?  

[00:13:16] Ferne Kotlyar: Number one, it's okay for you to suck.  

[00:13:18] Kim Ades: [Laughs]  

[00:13:19] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] Number two [Laughs] it's okay if you never get better. [Laughs] Number three, you're addicted to passion and--

[00:13:32] Kim Ades: [Laughs]  

[00:13:32] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] Your passion is bad and good at the same time. So maybe you need to go to alcoholics anonymous.  

[00:13:41] Kim Ades: [Laughs] Okay, let's start again. Number one, measure your performance against your performance. Don't look around you to determine whether or not you're improving. Number two, it's okay to start off not being so great at something. If that thing is important to you, then we need to find a way to patiently go through the process of improvement.  

[00:14:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, and if I'm not a patient person?  

[00:14:07] Kim Ades: Well, that's the conversation we need to have. Number three, sometimes it's okay not to be good at everything. And sometimes it's okay to say "I'm gonna do this 'cause it's fun" as opposed to "I'm gonna do this so that I'm the superstar of the world in tennis". Right? I'm just gonna be--  

[00:14:26] Ferne Kotlyar: Nobody said that was my goal. [Chuckles]  

[00:14:28] Kim Ades: Okay, but I'm just saying it's okay not to be perfect at everything. What was the other thing you said?  

[00:14:35] Ferne Kotlyar: Something about alcoholics anonymous. [Laughs]  

[00:14:37] Kim Ades: [Laughs] No, that was you.  

[00:14:39] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] That's what you just said! "What was the other thing you said?"  

[00:14:41] Kim Ades: No, but you said that I said something.  

[00:14:44] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, that I'm addicted to passion.  

[00:14:46] Kim Ades: Yes, you are addicted to passion. And a lot of times that serves you, that makes you achieve things, that makes you driven, that makes you excited about whatever it is you're doing. And sometimes the passion comes out in terms of frustration. "I'm passionately upset that I'm not good at tennis!" where it doesn't need to be such a strong emotion.  

[00:15:13] Ferne Kotlyar: So the advice would be to tame myself?  

[00:15:16] Kim Ades: Would be to say "it's a game. It's okay. It's a game. I'm here to have fun. It's a game. I don't have to take it all so seriously". We take ourselves very seriously. It's a game.

[00:15:32] Ferne Kotlyar: We all like winning.  

[00:15:35] Kim Ades: No, you like winning.  

[00:15:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Everybody likes winning!  

[00:15:38] Kim Ades: But some people need to win more than others.  

[00:15:41] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't need to win, I just wanna improve.  

[00:15:43] Kim Ades: You don't?  

[00:15:44] Ferne Kotlyar: No!  

[00:15:44] Kim Ades: Okay. So if you wanna improve let's... We're gonna have this conversation again.  

[00:15:49] Ferne Kotlyar: Maybe win one time.  

[00:15:49] Kim Ades: A tennis conversation... [Laughs] We're have this conversation again, and we're gonna have a conversation about your measurements of improvement. There you go. Got it?  

[00:16:01] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, great. Thanks.  

[00:16:02] Kim Ades: Okay. For those of you who are listening, what are the takeaways of this conversation? The first takeaway is yes, my daughter and I sometimes have contentious conversations that go around in circles. [Chuckles] A second takeaway is we often measure ourselves using the wrong measuring sticks, and I think it's a really good idea to measure ourselves against ourselves as opposed to others, and that is a very healthy and helpful way to measure our improvements in performance. That's important.  

Also number three is we don't always have to be great at everything we do. We can take things a little bit lighter, we can determine that some things are just a game, and that some things are just there for our enjoyment and not for our excellence and top performance. And so those are the takeaways. Are you good with that, Ferne?  

[00:16:59] Ferne Kotlyar: Sounds good.  

[00:17:00] Kim Ades: Sounds good. Allright. Would love to hear your thoughts on this particular episode. Love to hear from you. How do they reach you, Ferne?  

[00:17:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Please email me. My email address is Fernekotlyar@live.com.  

[00:17:17] Kim Ades: And I can be reached at Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. But you know what I really wanna know? Do you have conversations like this with your kids? That's what I wanna know. Anyways, we will see you next week. Same time, same place. Have a great one, everyone.  

[00:17:32] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye!

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