My single biggest epiphany this week has been that we NEVER see ourselves as we are, we see ourselves as we were.
Think about that for a minute.
The now that we exist in from a professional perspective is a culmination of all the experiences and learnings we have amassed to date. From this perspective, it’s hard to view ourselves from the outside-in and through the lens of a neutral, unbiased view.
Here’s the context to my aha moment; Recently I was invited by CNBC Africa to participate in their live-streamed (global), virtual conference, discussing the role of technology in the new ‘post’ COVID world and specifically, its impact on the way of work in Africa.
Now, just to be clear… I’m in the start-up phase of my consulting career and have only ever consulted to national organisations around digital, sales and marketing strategies. The panel I was a part of were so far above my professional ‘weight class’ that I almost pulled out when I read their bios. To say that I was intimidated would be the understatement of the year!
But, I persevered, participated, and it was amazing! Since then, I’ve been invited to participate in more webinars, partner with international agencies and to go on air with a radio station to further explore some of the insights mined during the conference.
None of this would have happened if I had backed out because of my fear of not equaling up. If I had allowed my view of where I believed I ranked to dictate my willingness to participate, I’d be exactly where I was before I stepped into the ring and punched above my weight class.
So, how do you play in the big leagues? Here are my 4 tips:
1. Just GO FOR IT: Seriously, check your insecurities and your inner voice at the door and swing for the fences. If you’re invited to sit at the table, don’t remove yourself from the conversation just because you don’t see yourself the way others do. You will miss out on some spectacular opportunities if you do.
2. Let the haters hate: They will come, and they will be convincing. DO NOT LISTEN! It’s human nature to focus on the negative feedback even if it’s part of the minority. You’ve just got to rise above it. Know your truth, know your craft, and then drown the rest out.
3. Work like a freight train: If you have no idea what’s going on when your peers are talking about the latest trends, technology, or business opportunities in your field – then get online and get learning. Entrepreneurship is more about your ability to learn, grow and being plugged in than it’s about your ability to manage a profit and loss sheet. Never stop learning and do NOT beat yourself up when you realise you have more growing to do.
4. If you don’t know – you don’t know: NEVER pretend to have the answers if you don’t.
Players that have been in the game a few decades more than you have will smell inauthenticity and insincerity the second you try to fake it. The essence of maturity in leadership is vulnerability and knowing when to surround yourself with people who can grow and stretch you. You will get far more credibility in the admission that you don’t know and through your restlessness in finding the right answer and solution.
If you never take the risks that place you above your weight class or force yourself into massively uncomfortable situations, you’re never going to find out what you’re actually made of. So, say “yes!” more often, EVEN to the things that scare you and then, never take your foot off the gas. That’s how you start to play in the big leagues!