The best insight I received from one of my leaders related to overcoming the feeling of being in over my head.
In 2002, and early in my career I took on a new role which was a brand new position in the organization, and because it was new, it was relatively undefined. My title was Leader of Organizational Change, and my job was to develop the role and build change capacity within myself and the organization. The problem however, was that I felt like I was in over my head and was questioning myself about taking on the role as a mistake – I was stuck. Up to that point, I had been developing my own change expertise but was far from being an expert. One day I was talking to one of my leaders about where I was at, and shared with him that I felt like I was in over my head. His response to me went like this: “Shana, we’re all in over our heads. I am in over my head every day in this company … and you know what, that’s a good thing. If we are not in over our heads, we are not learning.”
This insight that he shared with me really had a big impact on me at the time – a light bulb moment that helped me to think differently and shift from seeing my new role as a problem to seeing it as an opportunity to learn and develop new skills and abilities. His insight also provided me with clarity and normalized the feeling of being in over my head. Over the years, I have come to see that when we are challenged and stretched the most, the more we learn and the more individual capability we develop.
I have carried this insight of “being in over my head is a good thing” with me and have applied it at every step of my career and life whether I was an employee in an organization, to leaving the corporate world and starting my own business, to my personal life and blending a family of five children. I also share this insight whenever I can with clients, participants in my coaching workshops, friends and family – it is such a useful reminder to navigate through life with a learning mindset.
I have learned that our mindset and choosing where we put our focus is what really makes the difference. If we focus on the problem, problems are what we see. If we focus on the opportunity, opportunities are what we see. It is up to us to choose. Shift your focus and choose your mindset … it will change your thinking and enhance your results!
One of the International Coach Federation (ICF) Core Competencies is about “Creating Awareness” and is focused on helping the client gain awareness as well as facilitating learning and results. Sharing insights like “being is over your head is a good thing” with people is a powerful way to create awareness and facilitate their continued learning and results.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein
Shana Ring is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), President of Destination Leadership, and Founder of the EXPEDITION Coaching Program. She focuses on providing leadership coaching, coaching training, and consulting in the area of coaching and culture change, succession planning, leadership development and organizational effectiveness.