Embrace The Suck

embracethesuckI had never heard the expression “Embrace the Suck” until this fall. After a November 1 thrashing of Northwestern University’s football team by Iowa (a brutal 48-7 loss), Northwestern’s coach, Pat Fitzgerald, said regarding their loss, “Sometimes you have to embrace the suck.”

Big Ten Media Day FootballWhoa! What did he just say? What kind of language was that from a respected coach of a great, top tier university?
So I did a little homework and found out a couple of key facts:

1. Despite my lack of awareness, this was not a new term and its origins are in military lingo
2. More importantly, on reflection this was a really great piece of advice.

We all have our ups and downs in life. In fact there are times when we get our asses kicked. I know in my former life as an ad agency head that we pitched a new account but lost, we sometimes whined about our defeat.

“They didn’t deserve us”
“They don’t know good work from bad”
“This was rigged”
“They just want us to tell them what they want to hear”

Kvetch. Kvetch. Whine. Whine.

These were all defensive mechanisms to deflect the reality that someone else was better than we were. I wish in retrospect I gave a “Sometimes we just have to embrace the suck” speech to our staff (and myself) when we lost, and then did something about it.

What does “embrace the suck” mean?
1. It means truly owning a defeat, however brutal
2. It means realizing that someone/some firm was better than you.
3. It means learning from adversity.
4. It means dusting yourself off and trying again.

And if you really embrace the suck and more importantly learn from the suck, then it means improving and learning and striving for a higher level of performance.

We’ve all sucked at some point. One of the keys to long term success is to embrace the suck, determine to keep our “suck ratio” to a minimum and rise up to avoid having to suffer the same humiliation again. Damn good advice, Coach Fitzgerald. Look forward to future Big 10 football games against my alma mater Rutgers (they won’t play until 2018).

PS. Northwestern University did embrace the suck well and bounced back to upset Notre Dame last Saturday at South Bend. Coach Fitzgerald might be on to something.

More Strumings

Leave a Reply