Today I want to talk about a common mistake that I sometimes encounter when I’m coaching others and I’ve fallen into this same mistake myself; although luckily, I had an experience a long time ago that exposed the mistake so that I am more aware of it and can more easily avoid it.
I was about 19 and I was working at a small town doctor’s office. I enjoyed the work; I got along with everyone and it felt like I was being of service to our patients. To advance, I realized that I needed to take a medical terminology course. I got the information on the course and it looked intimidating. Very intimidating.
But, I wanted to advance and I knew that I needed the education, so I signed up for the class.
The day before the class was to begin, I was talking to my mom about it and I confided to her how nervous I was to begin the class.
She asked me why I was nervous and I replied: “Because I don’t know the material yet. ”
I remember that she stopped what she was doing, looked at me for a few seconds and then said, “That’s exactly why you are taking the course. If you already knew the material, it wouldn’t be necessary to take the course.”
It sounds so obvious, right?
But, believe it or not, I hear it in coaching fairly often. We are afraid of trying something new because we don’t know how to do it. Of course, we don’t know how to do it if it’s new.
Here’s where this mistake can really hurt us: when it keeps us from taking action. And, this is fairly common.
I’ve seen it countless times when someone wants to take a new bold action because they want to get a different result for themselves and yet they get nervous or fearful because it’s new – and that means that they might not be good at it right away, or they might not have all the answers they need yet.
We have to make friends with the relationship between something being new and us being new to the experience. In other words, we have to embrace being a novice in the new activity. Because to grow, we have to act.
I think that this can become harder the more successful we become because we are so accustomed to crushing it, that it’s hard to put on the novice hat again. But, often embracing the mindset of the novice is exactly what we need in order to experience a breakthrough.
There are 3 keys to keep in mind in order to avoid this trap:
- You have to become aware of it. Nothing happens without awareness. To become aware, tune into your emotions. Are you feeling nervous? Fearful? Anxious? A weird combination of fear and excitement? If so, PAUSE and reflect on the feeling. Reflect – don’t judge it. The emotion is what it is. It is merely a data point if you take the time to stop and listen to it. So, what is the emotion telling you?
- Realize that it is absolutely normal and HUMAN to feel those types of emotions before doing something new.
- Remember that if you are trying something new then you are bravely putting on the novice hat — in that ONE area. That doesn’t mean that you are giving up all the expertise and all the success that you have in other areas. And, since you are putting on the novice hat in that one area, embrace that. Be a novice, be a student of it. Immerse yourself in it and enjoy it – without thinking that you have to be a master of it before you begin. That thinking will stop you and it will kill any joy that you could have had. And worse, it will keep you from learning and growing and experiencing the breakthroughs that you want to have.
Is there an activity or skill that you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t because you’ve been worried about how you might look or that you might fail or that you might not be good at it right away? If so, you’re not alone and I hope that you will try out these strategies and let me know how it goes.