“You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit,” said a state politician presenting at a leadership camp. This speech brought cheers from a crowd of teenage boys.
Decades later, I hear this quote ringing even louder. My passion is serving people who are suffering in their work, and cubicleMonks is one way I’m pursuing this mission. The problem is I have no experience in creating a webpage or an online presence. My writing was never a strength.
I’m serving with crap.
What is your dream?
Do you have a passion, but you’re afraid to jump into a new arena? Is there a new position or promotion that seems too far away? Perhaps you need to create something that doesn’t exist.
Getting stuck in the self-judgment of not being, having, or knowing enough is wasted energy. Yet this is what we all do. It is tough to rewire ourselves for new opportunities.
It is critical to move past this barrier and into discovery and learning.
I’ve done this before
I’m currently in a job I love. I manage a team of software engineers building medical equipment. It wasn’t luck or formal education or innate talent that put me into this leadership position. I am a shy, introverted, analytical engineer. I realized what I loved was building life-saving medical systems. If I write the software, I know my piece of code will help patients. But it was frustrating that not all of the software could best help the patients, and I couldn’t write all of the code. So I needed to jump into leadership so that I could influence the larger product, not just my small piece.
I needed to grow new skills to take on new responsibilities.
The trick I’ve found in making these big leaps is that we can’t rely on the systems and tools that got us this far. Our formal education and training brought us to high levels, but this falls apart as we get more specialized in what we do. A class, book, or degree wasn’t enough to help me thrive in this new position.
I needed to grow my: leadership skills, communication skills, domain knowledge, relationships with the larger broader development team, and learn the culture of the company. All of these unique skills woven together are almost impossible to find in a class or a book.
As you can see from the previous list, my transition into a new leadership role required seeking mentors and connections to people who could give me advice and feedback.
Steps for jumping into a dream:
The basic formula for mastery is quite simple: Do, learn, correct.
Here is the strategy I am using for cubicleMonks, and I think it applies to the pursuit of most dreams.
- Do your first action. There is always a related task to what you ultimately want to do. Find it, jump in, and don’t be afraid to make crap.
- Find mentors. Are there people you admire doing similar things to what you want to do? Talk to them. Most everyone loves taking someone under their wings, and your first action will inspire them to help move you forward.
- Seek people who are willing to give valuable feedback. Feedback is where you truly learn.
- Go have fun turning the crap into something valuable.
If you made it this far, would you do me a favor?
Could you give me feedback at cubicleMonks@gmail.com? Do you see crap or value? Your input will help me serve you better (see step 3 above.) Thank you.