I work in a field that consistently requires originality. While my team always conducts the necessary research to ensure we’re not reinventing the wheel or making our tasks more difficult than they really need to be, we often have to utilize our combined knowledge and professional expertise to devise solutions and deliverables that meet our constituents’ needs. I think most of the time we all revel in challenge (and chocolate once it’s all said and done). But, I also know we’ve all had those moments when we found ourselves staring at the rapidly blinking cursor on a blank Word document trying to discern the best way to outline a framework, research findings, meeting content, or realistic program measures. In full transparency, I’ve probably had more of those moments than the rest of them.
When I was first hired at my organization, I was faced with a steep learning curve. While I had the foundational knowledge and skills to fulfill my job responsibilities, I knew very little about the environment and constituents I’d be serving. I remember one of the directors casually saying to me one day, “oh, it’s going to take you at least six months to feel like you have a handle on what you’re doing.” I gave her an affirming smile hoping that was something she said to all the new people to make them feel better about the pace of our work. But, whether those words were for comfort or not, I have no problem admitting she was 110% accurate! Although it was a rough start, I can look back now and celebrate all that I’ve accomplished. When I felt like I had nothing valuable to contribute, I “leaned in” (shameless plug for one of the books I read last year). When I had to draft a new idea or articulate key principles to constituents to improve the way they teach and had no clue how to approach it, I consulted knowledgable peers. When I just didn’t know or found myself confused, I asked. When I had writer’s block and/or kept re-reading the same sentence in a reference material, I found a snack, took a break, and then returned to my professional domicile. Basically, I never allowed the fear of the unknown or the thought that I might make a mistake hinder my completion of a task. I listened. I drafted. I partnered. I took chances. I sought guidance. But, most importantly, I tried.
In order to uncover the depth of your abilities, you have to commit yourself to things you’ve never done or that which you may be unsure about. You simply just have to go for it. Even if what you produce turns out to be completely wrong, your tenacity will be the reason you get another shot. And I can guarantee others will notice, and they’ll want you to help them replicate what they know you’ve now learned to do. You can’t succeed at anything you don’t try. Keep working. Keep building. Keep pursuing. Just keep trying.