You Know More Than You Know.

A few years ago, I came to a strange point with Stry.us. I had been working on the project for a while, and the initial giddiness of working on something new had worn off. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed with it all. There was so much I didn’t know, and it felt to me like I was the only one who didn’t know what he was really talking about.

I didn’t quite know how to explain it back then, but I can now. (Funny how much a few years of perspective helps.) What I was experiencing was twofold:

1) I was challenging myself, and realizing that to succeed in my new role, I was going to have to learn a lot.

2) I was struggling to remember that even though I had a lot to learn, I also still knew a lot.

That didn’t make sense to me when I first went through it. I honestly believed that I couldn’t be smart AND have lots to learn at the same time. I thought it was either one or the other.

But the more people I talk to about my experience, the more I realize that I wasn’t alone in this. A lot of people struggle with that mentality when they take on a big new role.

So when you find yourself in that situation — when you feel overwhelmed with what you still have to learn — these two things can help:

1) Be honest with others about what you know. When you know the answer, speak up! Chances are, you know a lot more about your work than you’d give yourself credit for.

2) Be willing to say, “I don’t know.” It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign of failure. When you say those words, you’re making a promise to yourself to go out and find the answers. And often, you’re making a promise to get help from others.

You can be stubborn, and pretend to know it all, or you can grow as you go. I’d take the second path if I were you.

The Road To The Final Four

Right now, I can tell you that one of these four teams is almost certainly going to win the NCAA Tournament, which begins in a few hours: Florida, Wichita State, Louisville, or Villanova. That’s what the stats suggest, and that’s what I believe.

But I’m still going to watch the games. They’ll play 63 games in the next three weeks, and I’ll watch at least part of almost every single one. Even the 1-vs-16 match-ups. Even the blowouts.

Even the games that involve Kansas.

Why?

Because moments will happen. Because upsets from out-of-nowhere schools like Florida Gulf Coast will happen. Because buzzer beaters will happen. Because heartbreak will happen.

And because the ride matters. We’re always so focused on the end result — that’s what this post is really about, but hang with me for a moment — but it’s the road there that we really care about. Everyone fills out a bracket and projects a final score, but does anyone really remember what the score of last year’s title game was? Or the year before that?

The end result is just that — a result. It’s a number, and it’s a fact for future edition of Trivial Pursuit.

But it’s the road there that we remember. It’s those experiences that shape everything we’ll see these next few weeks.

There’s a funny thing about this tournament, and about work in general: You’ve always got your eyes on the next step, but your thoughts on the final destination. Focus too much on one or the other, and you lose your way.

Anyway, back to basketball: Florida, Wichita State, Louisville, or Villanova is going to win this — I believe that. But there’s no need to skip ahead to the ending.

The Road To The Final Four is what I care about the most.

That photo at top comes via Flickr’s Nick Meador.

Acknowledgements.

41dcc976e58711e2bd1422000aeb103d_7

I know this is the kind of thing people usually save for an awards speech or a published book. But I just finished a good book yesterday, and then I watched the Oscars, and now I’m in the mood for saying “Thanks.”

Who says I can’t offer a few acknowledgements just because?

So to start:

Thanks to the people who believed at the start: Myron, Don C., the Drake, Steve M., Bill and everyone at the Star, Dan and Howie, too. To Richard for the Redskins gig. And Uncle Donald for telling me to send that email to Ted Leonsis. Funny how that all worked out.

To the guys at the Rocky — thanks for a great summer. Sorry again about almost getting deported.

To Jan and Greg at KENS, for that first shot. And for standing up for me too many times to count.

To the 2k5ers, who always gave me a place to come home to. Especially those who always made time to listen: Gerf, Lizzy, Ani, Emma, and all the boys — Jason, LK, Tom, Dinner, Shoe, Kurt — I owe you for that.

Thanks to everyone at Mizzou who believed. Most of all, to Keith, Amy, Randy, Dave, David, Jen, Dorothy, and Paul. To the NewsFoo guys, who opened doors for me, and let me tell that story about Mrs. Claus.

And of course, to the Tigers who told me to keep going: Ryan, Dan, Beth, Sarah, KVo (and fam!), Teresa & Luke. Won’t soon be forgotten.

To Jordan and the Stry.us team, who came along on an absolutely crazy ride and made it unforgettable. (Still so proud of you guys.) And to everyone in Springfield who pitched in — especially the amazing team at the library.

To my bosses at BuzzFeed: Ben, Scott, Doree, Dao, and Erica, for believing in all of this, and to my co-workers who do work that impresses/inspires/wows me every single day. To Allison, too, for convincing me that New York would be fun. (You were right. It is.)

To everyone who let me tell their story: Thank you. Biloxi and Springfield, thanks for letting me share your stories, too.

To my parents: Thanks for teaching me to always do the work.

To Ellen and Sam: Thanks for always being there to kick my ass when I needed my ass kicked.

And to Sally, the queen of superlatives. You are The Silliest, and The Best, and The Most Wonderful. You make this all work. Love you.

That photo at top comes via Instagram’s @papajm25.