A few months ago I was working with a client. He came to the coaching session really concerned about a particular project that he’d been asked to become part of. I asked him to tell me a little bit more about that and he said that his CEO had nominated him to participate in this international project, which is a real feather in his cap.
He really wasn’t sure why he had been nominated. He was incredibly concerned that he didn’t have the same kind of knowledge that other people who had been nominated had. He said to me, “I’m really thinking I should just tell them that I’m not the right person and they need to get somebody who’s more suitable and has the right kind of knowledge and the right kind of experience.”
I asked him to tell me a little bit about the project. He told me that it was an international aid project. It was focused on agriculture. It was going to be happening in Indonesia. I said, “Okay, explain to me what your concern is here.” He said, “I’ve never been involved in an aid project. I don’t know anything about agriculture and I’ve never been to Indonesia.” Hmm, okay.
So I asked him, “What do you know?” He thought for a moment and then he said, “Well I do have a PhD in Systems Innovation and I’m really good at bringing people with diverse skills together to solve problems.” Ah ha. That’s how he can contribute: because he brings something that nobody else does.
Focus On What You Know[/tweetthis]When you’re playing in that space where you don’t know, then you’re really missing out. There was a study by the Corporate Leadership Council a number of years ago which showed that when we focus on our strengths, that our ongoing performance can improve around about 35%. When we focus on our weaknesses, what we don’t know, the skills we don’t have, then our performance in the ongoing period is likely to drop up to more than 26%.
When you focus on what you don’t know, you lose the opportunity to offer what you do know. You can become really stressed and anxious about how you don’t measure up to other people because you don’t have the identical knowledge and experience and strengths. Maybe you’re even thinking that those people are judging you for your lack in those areas, but what you bring is unique and special. Focusing on what you know allows you to draw on your strengths, your experience, your knowledge, the particular contribution that you can make.
How do you do that? I would suggest, start off with asking yourself three key questions.
- What do I know?
- What do I love?
- How can I contribute?
Instead of being like Sisyphus trying to push that rock up the hill every single day and being stressed and anxious and feeling like you’re not making progress, focus on what you know. No more being drained. No more focusing on the gap or your weaknesses. No missing out on opportunities.
Find the joy in your work, the fun, the flow. You can create the opportunity to really perform at your best and achieve your potential.