Think about the last time someone asked you to do something that you’ve never done before. What was your immediate reaction? Did you respond with a “Yes, Let’s go for it!” Or did you say “Not on your life!”
When I started my career, I never hesitated to take on a task, no matter how big or complex or outside my comfort zone it was. I was like a sponge, learning and absorbing everything in an attempt to master skills and topics that I found interesting and challenging. Lately I noticed that I more often respond with an almost automatic, knee-jerk “No” to new challenges and I started wondering why?
Saying no to something new comes down to one of two reasons for me. Firstly, I certainly have become more selective in my interests, and I am more conscious of balancing my life, knowing that if I take on something new I would have to compromise or sacrifice something else in the process.
Secondly I must admit that I have started saying no because I have developed a fear of failure. More accurately, it is the fear of being judged or criticised for not doing something excellently the first time.
Holding up the mirror I realised that I am just as guilty at times of having a low tolerance for people that do not do things right the first time. How many times as a manager have you looked at a person’s resume and if they haven’t got exactly the experience you’ve asked for, you did not consider them a suitable candidate.
Have you asked yourself why a person who does not quite have the experience applied for the role? For me the light bulb moment came when I realised that there are still people who like to be challenged in new and interesting ways, learning new skills along their way.
Before you say No to the next thing someone asks you to do, here are 5 things to remember:
- Try anything once – if you like it, great! If you don’t, at least you can say you’ve done it
- Do your research – don’t try and reinvent the wheel, there are a lot of resources out there help kick start the creative juices or give you a starting point.
- Do your best – no one can fault you for trying your best, you never know, your best may just be good enough
- Ask for help – there are very few things that have not been attempted before, ask your colleagues or friends for help
- Learn from your other experiences – think outside the boundaries of the task, just because you’ve never done exactly this thing, does not mean you cannot apply other experiences you’ve had to the task at hand.
I now make a point of reminding myself that the only way to grow is to try new things, and the only way to do that is by allowing my enthusiasm for a task to take over. By taking a chance on a person who is not quite there experience wise, but is enthusiastic enough to learn may just be one of the best decisions I can make.