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Slow + Ugly = AWESOME

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

One of the things that every human struggles with is failure. We hate failure. We hate to not accomplish whatever it is in front of us and feel as though somehow, our value as a person is tied to whatever it is that we failed at. This is especially true one to one.

It is a vicious cycle that must be reframed beyond, the age old "it's ok, just try again".

Sometimes that "just try again" leads to, I have tried. I have done my best and my best wasn't good enough before and it will not be again. Why would I try just to fail again? Emotions raise, shut down ensues and before you know it, what could have been a life long passion just ate your lunch and told you that you are no good.

How do I know this? I am this. I struggled with personal value every day of my life for as long as I can remember. I tied every win to my self worth and every loss as well. Guess what, I lose far more often. So what happened? I became a loser. I believed it before I tried, I believed it after I tried and the loss that would inevitably come after affirmed that very fact.

So what did I do? I stayed that way for far longer than I care to admit. I hid it! I had charisma. I had leadership skills. I had a gift of gab and persuasion. However, you can't talk your way out of a bad skillset. It is action and choice before you ever test the waters that make the difference.

I read a book by a guy named Jon Acuff. It changed my life. It made me think for a moment that I wasn't the only person in the world that had this struggle. It made me believe that there were others like me, who wanted to do good and make their days count but couldn't get out of their own way. It made me believe that the version of myself, that stood in the mirror, that wouldn't look back was worth something. It all started with this phrase.

Slow + Ugly = Awesome.

He went on to explain, that a lot of our lives we assume knowledge, we assume we know what we do not yet know. We assume that others must struggle but we do not actually account for their "hypothetical" struggle when evaluating our current struggle. On the contrary we actually believe everyone else is winning when we are losing. That view, kills momentum of anything that could be. It robs us of joy, it steels our pride and takes our lunch money....quite literally.

How? Have you had a job or have a job where you struggled with something? You struggled with a process, expectations, performance, people and a nagging feeling of you are not enough for this. All of this to only be confirmed by a small paycheck and larger bills.

Am I alone? Is it just me? I don't think so. In fact...I know so.

I know so because in this book, a study was done with over 10k people and everybody struggled just like me...Just. Like. You.

What was the cure?

Self Recognition of the problem:

I am SLOW at this. I am not getting it. I don't have what it takes RIGHT NOW.

It Is UGLY RIGHT NOW! I am not doing well, It hurts, there is pain...But...............


Whenever we learn something, we are slow at it. We are not perfect at everything we lay our hands to. It's ugly, because we are not good at it and because we have to go slow. It doesn't look that good or feel that good, BUT we feel AWESOME because we showed up!

NOT for our boss.

NOT for our paycheck.

NOT for our assignments.

NOT for our parents.

NOT for our friends.

NOT for our teammates.

NOT for our future.

NOT for our past.

NOT out of obligation.

We showed up for OURSELVES; and because we did, we now have the confidence to do it again and again and again with NO AGENDA other than to honor the promise of I WILL SHOWUP because that is who I AM. I CAN do hard things. I can go SLOW, I can be UGLY, I can feel AWESOME.

It is a choice.

This is what we lead with in our lesson studio. This is what is on every resource we print. It is what we live by. We are all capable of winning. We are capable of showing up. We are capable of making a decision of Slow and Ugly on Purpose for an extended period of time to reap the reward of playing an instrument and knowing your instrument well.

Slow + Ugly = Awesome is who we all are. When we give ourselves the space to fail forward, we give ourselves margin to win.


Zack Schuyler (formerly known as failure)

VP Student Experience


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