Does this sound familiar?
You’ve been called in as the expert to solve a problem.
You know your stuff and have built quite a comfortable life out of it.
This problem though is particularly challenging, you’re confident you can help but there’s a niggling doubt that’s causing you to hesitate.
You push past it and offer your solution.
It’s good, you’re happy with it, but it does have hidden flaws.
It goes ahead and its mostly successful, people are very happy but nonetheless it could have been better.
I’ve been hit with that scenario a few times in my life, in projects, in jobs and even in my personal life. The pressure is on and you’ve got to deliver, you do and it’s good but there is room for improvement.
One of these times was at a large government client where I was responsible for the overall project implementation of our IT management software.
This client was extremely risk averse and needed strong mitigation plans for all the identified risks. I suggested methods for mitigating, reducing and even avoiding these risks that were fairly sound. The project was a huge success however I was curious if my suggestions were the best they could have been.
What hidden opportunities had I missed? Were my suggestions the most efficient?
I certainly thought so.
My curiosity meant that these questions continued to itch in my mind and I needed the answers.
I started to realise that my problem was that I thought I had to know all the answers even though I knew I didn’t have them. It felt as though it was all on my shoulders and if I didn’t know the answer I’d have to step up, ultimately, by myself.
I thought I was alone.
As I was the expert, naturally I could only rely on my skills, experience and judgement. This meant that regardless of my role I could only grow at the rate it took me to gain additional knowledge or experience. Which is time-bound and extremely limiting.
Since then I’ve learnt that I’m not alone and there is a massive support network out there, both professional and personal. Nearly everyone is willing to help and it is only through listening and gaining insight from others that you can break this barrier.
There are two primary ways I’ve found to help you grow and gain insight.
Grow your network
This is simply attending events, functions or catch ups to meet new people.
I’ve now formed a habit of attending a fortnightly tech startup catchup where I have learnt a massive amount. By asking what others would have done in my situation, BOOM! The nuggets started to flow.
I’d highly recommend heading over to meetup.com, searching for the topic you’re interested in and heading to the events.
Mine your current network
This is the surprisingly valuable and is through your current contacts, colleagues and associates. It’s limited to the people you know but it’s extremely simple, just go grab a coffee with someone.
I did exactly that with one of the sales guys where I learnt the criticality of taking customers on a journey and focusing not on the value, product nor solution but rather where they will be in five years and the buy-in that comes with it. That tip was so simple yet completely amazed me.
With these methods I now accept that I don’t have to have all the answers and it’s quite simple to gain further insight.
Never underestimate the power of connecting and listening to others.
The knowledge and relationships you will gain will help you grow exponentially better.