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.