The words jolted me but were not unexpected. For the past six months I had been training in the Japanese art of Aikido with my boss (a managing partner at DeveloperTown who lives on a farm and regularly trains in Aikido — go figure) so moments of correction were not new to me.
But as I attempted a technique that, if performed correctly and at speed would result in me striking him in the chest, he stopped and offered a correction that has stuck with me:
You suck, slow down.
Or, put another way:
You’re new to this, stop acting like an expert.
And if you add his intent:
You’re new to this and aren’t any good yet — but that’s ok.
Any time we start something new, we often rush in with the confidence we’re used to having in other areas of our lives, as if being experienced in one area will magically roll over to a new one.
But that’s rarely the case. Certainly, adherence to proven principles in general and our experiences in particular are enormously beneficial when doing new things, but that’s not the same as being seasoned in a field.
As one of our clients, Jason Seiden, recently observed “Running a technology company is different than running a consulting firm.” That subtle awareness makes all the difference in the world as to how quickly you will pick up what you need to succeed in a new arena.
And therein lies the irony — the sooner you embrace your lack of knowledge, the sooner you’ll start to gain what’s lacking. As I was told when learning to shoot in the Army, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
So if you’re in the middle of doing something you’ve never done before, or done at this level before, or with a new approach before… take a moment and consider: am I trying to move too fast?
You may not suck at what you’re doing like I do at Aikido (and if I’m being honest you might be better at Aikido than I am too) but is your confidence blinding you?
Ask yourself: Do I care more about looking like an expert than I do actually becoming one?
The answer can be humbling but might trigger the change in mindset that you need to accomplish what you’re trying to do. Because there was a time when that craft you’re so skilled at today was completely new to you… remember those moments and over time you’ll trade struggle for skills and through patience, persevere.
This post first appeared on DeveloperTown.com