Negotiate the Suck Factor

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March 7, 2016

The suck factor? Yes, the suck factor. What exactly is the suck factor? The word suck in this case is a slang word that means “to be objectionable or inadequate.” In other words to do something really poorly or not be good at something you attempt.

Many people avoid attempting new things because of fear of inadequacy. Fear comes from the unknown. If you don’t know what something will be like because you haven’t experienced it, your mind will fill in what it thinks it will be like.

For instance the majority of the population has a fear of speaking in front of people. They’ve seen other people speak and the thought of them doing it is absolutely paralyzing. The same holds true for negotiation, many fear negotiation because they it seems like conflict or confrontation. Fear is based on a fabrication most of the time. What we perceive to be real most likely isn’t as bad as we think it is.

There is a process of “sucking” that we have to go through to be able to get good at something. There are those who avoid the “suck process” so perhaps they don’t look bad in front of others, don’t disappoint themselves or sidestep failure. In order to work towards mastery, failure is inevitable. It takes many attempts to become an expert and failure is a precursor to success. Remember, The Power is in The Work, You do The Work, You will have The Power.

The following is the 3 step “Suck Process.” It’s a mindset to help you process through the less than stellar performances and disappointments that come as you are aiming for your goals. Follow these steps and you will have success much sooner.

Step 1 – Dare to Suck – Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you master the skill. Basically, the first time you do something will be your worst (First Is My Worst). A toddler falls the first several times they attempt to walk. The speaker may fumble their words the first time, the teenager learning to drive gunned the accelerator or hit the brake too hard or the figure skater or gymnast had several falls before perfecting their program.

Daring to suck means being ok with the fact that you probably are going to suck the first time you attempt something. You may even suck a few more times after that but most assuredly the first time you do something will be the worst time. Once you’ve attempted it, you know what it feels like and the fear passes and the ability to get better at it has just been created. It’s what you do with that ability is what matters most.

I remember a guy from when I was in the military that refused to do anything new that he couldn’t be good at the first time out. Unless he was perfect at it he was not willing to do it. In other words he was not willing to fail at things in the beginning. We were going on a group skiing trip and he had never skied before and refused to go because he knew he wouldn’t be good at it the first time. This can be a limiter in your life. There’s no way you can expect to be an expert or really good at something the first time out.

I tell a story about seriously sucking at riding a motorcycle sometimes during my speaking. I dared to suck big time and crashed the bike. Here’s a clip with part of that story.


I have been riding for 20 years now and believe me when I say I got better with practice. The first was definitely my worst and I’m glad I didn’t give up because riding my Harley is a favorite me time activity for sure.

Daring to suck means being ok with yourself for not being perfect at something the first time you attempt it. Maybe you will be really good at it but chances are you won’t be. Being ok with that and not letting anyone else who may make fun of you or ridicule you for it is what Dare to Suck is all about. Also not giving up when you have a setback. As I mentioned in the clip above, Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics said “Fail Forward to Success.” Keep that attitude and moving through the suck will lead to ultimate success.

Step 2 – Embrace the Suck – OK so you did something that you sucked at. Great! Awesomesauce! Briliant! You got past it and survived. Now embrace that fact that it sucked, failed or could have been much better. Where do you go from here? The only place to go is up. The way to move up and off of that failure is to train and drill whatever it is you are doing.

After my motorcycle fiasco, I took the Motorcycle Safety Course and practiced riding on a daily basis until I got better and felt safe riding anywhere. I did my first 4 years of riding in the UK on the other side of the road and now I ride the 405 Freeway in Southern California on my Harley. That takes skill!

As a speaker I often do my stories over and over again so I know where to pause, where to add inflection, where to connect and where to insert power. Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers is having to embrace the suck now after the less than stellar performance at Super Bowl 50. How can he embrace the suck? After processing the feelings about it all, he can then go back to the drawing board and figure out what worked, what didn’t and what could he do better at next time?

In the military we call this an After Action Report. You have to go back and see what went wrong and how to improve it. That’s embracing the suck and not letting it totally defeat you.

After Actions are highly recommended for whatever you do. We do those immediately after every live training we put on so we can improve for the next time. My first attempt at a live event was called “The Art of Negotiation.” It was a 2 day event and was free as a test run for games and exercises I had created. One game totally bombed plus I barely taught any negotiation concepts on the first day! The Think Like A Negotiator book had not been written or even thought of yet.

I dared to suck and did in many ways. Then I had to embrace the suck. I actually had a feedback session with all the attendees the first night. I sat and took in their feedback so I could make the event meet what they needed. I put off doing a live event for a very long time because I wasn’t confident I could pull it off. But I had to start somewhere and then be ok with it not being perfect so I could get better. TLN Live is now coming up on it’s 6th time running and it improves every time. I had to embrace the failures along with the successes and keep making improvements along the way. It’s progress not perfection!

Step 3 – Erase the Suck – The final step is to “Erase the Suck.” How does that work exactly? This is the part of sucking that ensures you Dare To Suck, then you Embrace The Suck and once you have processed it all, you have to let go of it. That’s what erasing it is all about. You won’t forget it but erasing in this sense is moving forward with an action plan to ensure improvement and that the same situation won’t happen again. It’s not hanging onto the sucking part and continuing to beat yourself up about it.

In the example above with Cam Newton, he has to come to a point where he knows what went wrong and then has to come up with a plan moving forward to not let it happen again. What about last years Super Bowl where Seattle threw away the game because of a bad play?

I’m using the Super Bowl examples because we just had one this month. If you aren’t into football, insert any sport, activity or event in it’s place. It’s all the same.

In my motorcycle example I had to get past the part that I crashed a bike on my first time riding one. I had to embrace that I did that, get some training so it wouldn’t happen again and get that out of my head and move beyond it.

That’s the entire process. It’s simple but not easy. We are our own worst critics when it comes to sucking. Somehow we have been taught that it is not ok to suck. Using the ideas above may help you be ok with it and move through it at a faster pace.

As I was finishing this up, I came across a post with this word – Flawsome – an individual who embraces their flaws and knows they’re awesome regardless.

Go ahead – Dare to Suck!

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez

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Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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