by Carrie Kerpen | Published by Forbes


[ARTICLE] In grade school, Gay Gaddis tried to learn tennis, but no matter how hard she worked at it, she just wasn’t very good. In fact, she really sucked at it. So one day, she threw down her racket and never played tennis again. It was one of her earliest life lessons: It’s okay to suck.

Gay Gaddis is the former chairman of C200, the preeminent global organization for women business leaders, and the founder and CEO of T3, one of the largest woman-owned advertising agencies in the United States. Gaddis serves on the board of directors of Monotype Imaging Holdings, Inc., and she is the first female chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council. She’s also the author of the book COWGIRL POWER, to be published in 2018.

During her first job out of college as a creative director, Gaddis was put in a cubicle, given assignments, and told to just come up with something really amazing. But as she kept missing the mark over and over again, Gaddis began to feel terrible about herself. After eventually losing that job, Gaddis moved on to other opportunities and learned that her creativity and problem-solving were generated through collaboration with others—not isolation in a cubicle.

And that’s the real lesson: Embracing what you suck at gives you the opportunity to figure out what you’re best at. “Throwing down the racket,” so to speak, actually gives you more time to do the things that you do well, and that’s what ultimately leads to a successful career.