Start before you’re ready
Some of our most pivotal moments in life, and the events that follow, begin with us starting before we are ready and saying yes to opportunities and ideas that present themselves.
Deciding to emigrate from one side of the world to the other
Taking on a new role at work without ‘being qualified’
Having a baby
Stepping up to a promotion a year ahead of when it was supposed to happen
Leaving a cushy job with no other job to go to
Starting a business without a plan
(ahem) Deciding to create a website and write a blog about something that’s of genuine interest and you feel passionately about
Yep – I did all of those things and started before I was ready. Any regrets? Nope. Sure, all of them had learning curves and lessons to teach me, good and bad. Some are continuing to do so on the daily and yes, all of them have kept me up at night on more than a few occasions, but if we all went through life waiting for the ‘right time’, waiting for the elusive ‘perfection’, then those opportunities and all the great things that follow, might never happen.
When it comes to work in particular, I’m always staggered by the Hewlett Packard internal report that was conducted a few years ago which found that men apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them. I hate to think about how many incredible people missed out on opportunities simply because they were afraid to start before they felt ready.
It was interesting to read that what held them back was not their actual ability, but it was the decision not to try. It was confidence over competence. (I’ll be writing more on this subject and imposter syndrome)
Soon after I started at a large design and engineering business (where I worked as an architectural graduate) having emigrated from the UK to Australia, the Global Financial Crisis (or GFC) hit and my then-boss was forced to hustle a little harder for new projects. He asked if I could ‘put some tender proposals together’ for our new business client pitches to win some more work. “Sure” I said, not really knowing what the hell I was doing, but I’ve always been eager to try new things and put my hand up for a challenge. I’d like to think I was really brave and confident, and I guess there is a bit of that, but actually I think that sometimes it’s been more a case of me being a people-pleaser and not being very good at saying no (a topic for another day…).
Turns out, I was actually pretty good at putting proposals together and winning new business. Also turns out that I genuinely loved it and it ended up changing the direction of my career forever!
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” – Sir Richard Branson
Was I ready to start? Probably not – I didn’t really know what I was doing to be honest. But I said yes to it anyway using the skills I did have in my toolkit, one of which was being able to effectively communicate with people in different departments, in various roles ‘up the ladder’, both internally and externally.
Every day is a new opportunity and chance to learn something that builds on our knowledge and deepens our expertise. It’s also a chance to teach and share what we’ve learnt, with others. And trust me, everyone knows something worth sharing with the world even if we don’t always believe it. We shouldn’t ever underestimate the valuable knowledge we have.
“Trusting yourself and the source of your intelligence is the most elegant version of experiencing freedom and manifesting personal productivity.” – David Allen, Getting Things Done
Precisely because everyone knows something, there are always people we can ask when we have a new task ahead of us. When we remind ourselves of this, it makes starting before we’re ready that little bit easier (sounds obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how many people are cautious about showing their vulnerability). We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and ask for help if and when we need it. We need to get comfortable with being vulnerable (cue Brene Brown). And we need to back ourselves (seriously, life’s too short). I’m not advocating that people BS their way through life – people see right through that and if they don’t straight away, they soon will – but we do need put ourselves outside of our comfort zones now and again.
And so, to follow my own advice, this is the first post on Flojo.
I have made a start. Have I ever written a blog? No. Am I worried that no one will read it? Yes, a little. But I’m prepared to start before I’m ready anyway. I’m starting before I have read the ‘how to start a blog’ handbook or enrolled on a ‘how to start a blog’ course (FYI I won’t actually be doing that by the way!).
I would like to encourage you to do the same. That product idea you’ve been thinking about - Go for it. What’s the first little step you can take to kick off the process? That job you’ve been thinking about applying for? Just apply, it doesn’t matter if you don’t tick every single box you have plenty of great skills and qualities that would be so worthwhile telling your potential future boss about. That solo trip you wanted to take to India? Book it. You’ll have an amazing time!
We need to start before we’re ready. Don’t wait for perfection. We can learn along the way. Our learning curve might be so steep that it scares us but embrace it. This is where the growth happens.
Here are a few tips to get started.
In your journal, or on a post-it note, write down what it is you are thinking about starting.
Share it with someone – a friend, your partner, the postman, me – anyone really so that you verbalise it and put it out to the universe
Brainstorm for 15 minutes on what the first step (or steps) in the process of getting started might be. Strip it right back to basics and start with a really simple, achievable step. (if you do just this alone, you have technically already started)
Decide on a date to have taken that first step. It might be tomorrow, it might be next week, it might be in a month’s time – just don’t put it off and leave it too long.
If there’s anything you are thinking about starting and need a little nudge or hit of encouragement, or just simply need some accountability to keep you motivated, then send me a message and I’ll happily be your cheerleader!
Thanks for reading.
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash