How many times have you found yourself in a meeting that you aren't following?
Depending on your character strength (humble v. confident) you may be honest with yourself about how frequently that happens or you might tell yourself it is a rare occurrence. Regardless, everyone finds themselves in this situation at one point or another.
Now how many times do you voice the fact that you're lost and not following the conversation?
When I first started at Next Jump, I would never admit that I was confused, or didn't follow, or was lost. I would leave a meeting with a colleague, teammate, or even our CEO having no clue what to do next. I'd find myself paralyzed. They expected something big, and they expected it to be done right, but I had no idea where to even begin. I would put off tasks and projects for hours, days, even weeks. Nothing changed, and nothing happened. I was stuck and miserable. And worst of all, I wasn't growing.
Fast forward to today – I feel myself growing more than I ever have before. One of the biggest tools I attribute to the growth I've experienced at Next Jump is the ability to admit that I'm lost, accepting that, and then making a “bad” version. Recently, I was having a conversation with our CEO about Next Jump Academy, a huge project I've been given ownership of. We were launching our first session that very day and I was updating Charlie with the status. He dived into wisdom and advice, how we could make it better…and I was NOT following. “ID the real problem,” “find patterns,” “we want to truly help individuals who are attending.” From what I picked up, I knew what he was saying was important, but I had no idea how to actually take this advice and act on it.
“Sound good?” Charlie asks.
Internal panic. How could I say I didn't follow? Will he judge me, does he think I'm not qualified, will he take me off the project? All these doubts raced through my mind. But I went against instinct and did what I've learned is so valuable: “I'll be honest Charlie, you lost me there.”
“I expect you to get stuck, just try and put something together and we can review later.”
It's funny because there was definitely a relief in saying “I don't know/you lost me” out loud. Once I said it, I felt better and then his response helped me even more. It un-paralyzed me. His response told me that whatever I come up with can be bad, but a start is better than pretending I was following and knew what to do. Without admitting that I was lost I would have had to come up with something good, or mostly right, and that would have paralyzed me.
It's silly to ever pretend like you know because the whole point of growing is that you're venturing into the unknown. It's easy to get stuck pretending and to be afraid of failure, but failure is really the very thing that helps us grow.
There is a mantra that I keep at my desk, to push me to try:
SOMETHING BAD IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. SOMETHING BAD IS EASIER TO MAKE BETTER.
So if you're like me, I encourage you to just get the first version out and +1 it.