The Power of Unconscious Influence

Give yourself permission to suck, then get better.

Randy Murray

I came across this part of a Tweet from Randy while preparing for my final Quick Quotes Weekly wrap-up for 2011. Clearly I like it. I shared it1 it over on my daily quotes blog, Smarter Than I Am and added it to my weekly favorites here on the blog back in February.

I don’t remember reading this, it blended into the swirl of everything I read over the past year. Yet it is clear that this quote has significantly impacted the direction of my work, my writing, and slowly but surely, my life. This seemingly tiny idea is deeply woven in the very fiber of A Better Mess and it lead to posts like “You Have To Suck First,” “How to Suck Less,” “Suck Less, One Step At A Time,” last week’s “Get Ready to Suck,” and the upcoming “Five Stages Of Sucking”2. I essentially unwittingly took Randy’s idea and ran with it.

All too often, we look for some overarching dogma, a cookie-cutter system, a roadmap forward. These can help, but they can just as easily get you lost, locking yourself into something that doesn’t fit. It’s possible that a single sentence, or even a small part of a tweet, can move you forward. It’s harder, as it won’t give you the steps, but it can show you the way. A small idea can work its way in and change in your life.

That rather than starting with GTD, Inbox Zero, or one of the thousands of other solutions out there, you can simply embrace an single idea and let it lead you to several things that help you improve. Because if I had to sum up 2011, I don’t think I could do better than Randy’s quote. Sure, I got into GTD, I embraced Inbox Zero, picked up several tricks, tips and tools to help along the way, but more than anything I finally gave myself permission to suck3. And slowly, but surely am starting to get better.


  1. Or curate if I’m in the mood to get back into my semantic debate with Randy.  

  2. All of which were written before I saw this quote again.  

  3. Or more aptly accepted that to a certain extent, I already suck.  

4 Responses to The Power of Unconscious Influence

  1. Early in my career a boss gave each member of our team a quota of mistakes we had to make every week, and then we had to report on them.  It changed my life!  Permission to mess up is a powerful tool

    • I. Love. That. It’s good fortune (and a great choice) to work for people like that. Growing through mistakes is so powerful, yet all too often, we’re too busy beating the crap out of ourselves…

  2. […] of making things happen. Now this often leads to me “borrowing ideas” (hell, the whole theme of this blog was unwittingly stolen from a Tweet), but I’ve become a big believer that nothing is original, that everything is a remix, that […]

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