February 20, 2014
Back to the Beginning by Sheryl Eberly
In 2005, Steve Jobs reflected on a period in his career when things hadn’t gone the way he’d planned:
The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
When is the last time you were truly a beginner? An actual novice? You know, feeling a bit lost, lacking skill. And lacking that beloved and supportive voice in your head: confidence.
You’re a leader, so you’re knowledgeable in your field. You have deep experience. Rarely do you deal with the angst that beginners know. You have a lot to teach others.
As such, you might even find yourself avoiding situations where you can’t display your expertise.
Nope, not going to give a talk at that industry meeting. Might not sound smart enough. Definitely not going to take a class. Might be expected to read a whole book. Not going to accept a position on that board of directors. Might not have anything to offer.
Kind of nice, isn’t it, staying in your competence zone? But you might be missing out.
I have a co-worker who recently started to refurbish furniture. I don’t think he’d call himself naturally handy, but he and his wife have transformed some real clunkers into beauties for their home. He gets animated when he talks about it. Who knows, he may fill his garage with this stuff and have a line of folks at his eBay door wanting to get one of his treasures.
I don’t understand the brain chemistry of it, or the motivational dynamic, but there’s some kind of re-hardwiring that happens when we’re disoriented through newness. We’re opened up to new impressions and emotions, new ideas. We might start to see things differently. Sometimes, of course, life throws us into uncharted water against our will.
If you’re protecting yourself from becoming a beginner again, you might also be protecting yourself from renewed energy, blood-pounding inspiration, the sheer joy that comes from vulnerability, from the breaking of routine.
As you move into this business year, you’re probably hoping to make it better than the last. Your strategic plan calls for company growth. You hope to build on last year’s accomplishments. You want to hire more people. You want to add more skills to your leadership game.
Just don’t let all of this more simply become more of the same.
Consider taking up something completely new. Even if it’s in a completely different domain than your daily work – like learning a language or running a marathon – it could infuse your professional life with just that extra shot of adrenalin you need.