If you’re a newbie, you have no business judging.

There once was a tennis coach who told his students they were not allowed to make any judgments of their swing until they had hit at least 1000 balls. (I heard this from Michael Neill, my coach mind crush).

Before 1000 balls, it’s all just practice. They are newbies, beginners in every sense of the word, and newbie beginners have no business forming judgments of themselves, right?

I wish I would have heard this 12 years ago when I was beginning graduate school. They even called us “newbies” in our first year, which you’d think might have clued me in.

Nope. I was a complete and utter novice, yet I evaluated and judged (and criticized and ridiculed) myself like there was no tomorrow.

Desperate for something concrete and “true” to hang on to (massive amounts of fear and uncertainty will do that to you), I was über-focused on knowing how I stacked up. Even as a newbie. As a true beginner with far fewer than 1000 shots under my belt, I wanted a “grade” before I even finished my first class.

I used whatever evidence I could find, appropriate or not. He did his undergrad work at Harvard?!? She got what on the GRE?!? Why am I not breezing through Advanced Multivariate Statistics?

How about you?  I did it and my clients do it, so maybe you do, too?

Like I did, my clients judge themselves out of the gate and wonder why they aren’t “getting it” quicker. Whether “it” is parenting, CEO-ing, quitting emotional eating, or Ballroom dancing, it matters not (and I’ve literally worked with all of these, just since March).

They form a quick and rigid conclusion on day one, just like I did, and then use that verdict to berate themselves to no end. Then they wonder why they aren’t having fun, learning faster, or getting it sooner.

They label themselves a “slow learner” or “not natural” or “bad at math” (that one was mine), and wonder why mommy-ing or dancing or statistics isn’t a walk in the park.

They beat themselves to the punch. They assign themselves a grade before they even get to the midterm.

So if you’re doing this, stop it, already.

I know uncertainty feels like a bitch at times. It can be really hard to sit in the not-knowing.

And I know that fear fuels uncertainty and makes it seem even more unbearable.

But see if you can sit with the uncertainty for just a minute.  Long enough to remind yourself that it’s not time to judge or be judged. The label or judgment—negative or positive—isn’t going to make you feel better the way you think it will.

You’ll still be a newbie and you’ll still be full of self-doubt from time to time, early evaluation or not.

So instead of playing that judgment game with yourself, give it some time. Be fluid. Swim in the uncertainty and wait until you’ve hit 1000 balls until you start evaluating yourself. And by the time you hit your 1000th ball, the urge to judge just might have passed.

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