Yeah, I suck, but I’ll get better…

I subscribe to the Havard Business Review (HBR) Management Tip Of The Day. About half the time, it is something that is applicable to my situation. This particular one hits both my work and my writing. The underlining below is mine.

HBR Management Tip Of The Day
When You’re Learning, You Should Feel Uncomfortable
Being a beginner at something can feel awkward and embarrassing, especially if you’re used to being an expert. But those feelings are the inescapable growth pains that come from developing and improving. To get used to the discomfort, know that it’s brave to be a beginner. Exposing your weaknesses and trying new things takes courage. You can make the challenge a bit easier by looking for learning situations where the stakes are low — maybe a class where you’re not expected to be an expert or you don’t know anyone else. If it helps, tell fellow participants that you may mess up whatever you’re about to attempt. Your willingness to take risks may inspire others to do the same. And whatever you do, don’t stop learning. Keep pushing yourself, especially in the areas where you are accomplished, so you can get even better. If you are willing to feel embarrassment and shame, and even to fail, there’s no end to what you can do.
This tip is adapted from “Learning Is Supposed to Feel Uncomfortable,” by Peter Bregman

As with many others, a large part of my difficulty with writing is the “I suck” thoughts that keep coming into my head. It is a constant battle to ignore those and just write. However, to some extent, it is true — I do suck. But I need to remember other things that are true.

  • I suck now when compared to my future writing skills.
  • The majority of people, when they start something new, suck compared to how good they are after they have been doing it for a while.
  • Comparing myself to those that have already paid their dues, put in their time, built their skills, it not a smart move. Should a high school gymnast compare themselves to Simone Biles? Should a new writer compare themselves to Maya Angelou? Of course not, they should compare themselves to how good they were last month and the month before. Learning from others is very good — comparing yourself to others is self-defeating.
  • Put in the time to learn a new skill, be patient with yourself, and, as the above tip says, don’t stop learning.

Hard to start writing
You’re your own worst enemy
Be patient and try

Travelog: Origin of the Flying W

Another travelog entry from our trip to Iowa.

Winnebago is a well known name in the motorhome business and has been for years. Several publications have written up histories of the company. There are links at the end of this post to them.

But no one has explained the origin of the “Flying W” itself.

Until now.

In Dubuque, IA, there is a historic boat, the William M. Black, moored as a showcase for the dredging boats that helped build the Mississippi into the working river it is today. Back in the day, it was up and down the river, working to clear channels deep and wide. The picture above is from its current home at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, Iowa.

As you look at the photo at the top of this post, you can clearly see the W built into the front of the boat. Seems pretty obvious, right. But back in the days before mobile phones, Facebook, and Instagram, people didn’t see things that weren’t in their town very often.

As the story goes, little Timmy Johnson was visiting Dubuque with his parents. They had come from Forest City, IA for a bit of work and a bit of vacation. Timmy’s dad worked for a new outfit in Forest City, called “Winnebago”. His dad was meeting some other people to talk about Winnebago and they had decided to make a family trip out of it.

Timmy was at that age where he was starting to read. He was a bit precocious, reading everything that was in front of him. This is important.

It was a Tuesday. And the meeting was on Wednesday. This is also important.

Tuesday was bright and sunny, but windy, and Timmy and his parents were on a drive down the river. As they drove south, they came upon the William M Black dredging at a spot along the west bank. They stopped for a while and watched.

As Timmy was inclined to do, he read the name of the boat out loud. But then, this being the 50s and all, there wasn’t a lot of other things to read near the road. There was a couple of Star beer cans, but he had gotten in trouble the last time he had read the word “beer” out loud so he knew to ignore it. Without anything to read, Timmy soon got bored.

He was staring out at the boat, watching it work. The wind had picked up, creating a few whitecaps. The water churned in front of the stationary boat and the muck oozed out as it was pumped out on shore back behind. As he stared, he suddenly realized that the metal superstructure on the front of the boat was a “W”. A “W” like his dad’s company “Winnebago”. The wind kicked up again and the flags attached to the W flapped aggressively.

Timmy then shouted out those fateful words: “Dad! Dad! That looks like a “Flying W! Like your company Winnebago!” Words that, to this day, are etched on the back of every Flying W logo attached to a Winnebago Motorhome.

You see, the very next day, when Timmy’s dad was at his meeting in Dubuque on that fateful Wednesday, he now had the idea for the new company logo. The fact that the meeting was about stuffing for mattresses and Timmy’s dad worked nowhere near the marketing department did cause a slight delay in getting the whole idea going.

But the rest is, as they say, history. Or at least Travelog history.

For actual, factual, history, please check these links.

Learn more about my travelogs.

Travelog fiction
Do not take seriously
Totally fact free