She looks at me with a blank stare for about three long seconds, then shares her idea for the meeting. Anyone who’d enter the room right now would think that this is where the conversation started.
But it didn’t.
Before those three long seconds, I had explained my idea. And I was pretty excited about it.
You can imagine how dismissed I felt when she didn’t even acknowledge I said something. Just changed the subject to her own idea. What’s worse: The others in the meeting followed her and my words and my idea fizzled out like the smoke of a candle you just blew out.
And so did my motivation to continue contributing.
… and with that, my chance of getting my opinion heard or my ideas realised.
Have you ever made an error, found out something you’ve spent hours on isn’t working, or couldn’t seem to make progress no matter how hard you tried?
We want to give up.
And what’s worse, it often comes with the ‘mean girl voice’ inside our head: “I’m not good enough at what I do”, “everyone’s against me”, and “others have it so much easier”.
That’s when we make the mistake: We freeze. And we don’t just freeze right this moment, but even in anticipation of something potentially going wrong. And we stop moving altogether.
Clever as we are, we know this can’t be a way of life, so we devise an elaborate plan of
- polishing our work even more before sharing it
- learning more stuff and even getting another certificate
- waiting for better information before taking the next step…
Turns out, we’re not so clever. Because all that does is fuel our perfectionistic tendencies and others beat us to the punch and get all their opinions heard and ideas realised while ours keep simmering in our own head.
Here’s what we need to do instead: collect data and information from DOING the thing and then ADJUST as we go. All the while valuing progress over perfection and considering failure and setbacks incredible learning opportunities.
In many projects and meetings I lead, I actually make it a point to bring “unready” ideas: “Ok everyone, what I’m about to share is intentionally half-baked. This is my first thought and I’d like you to find faults with it, help me make it better and viable… Then we’ll work out a plan to make our solution work.”
As a bonus, the meetings are even more productive, because now the discussion has a direction as opposed to everyone throwing random remarks at a blank canvas.
PS: We often apply the same silly logic to building a network … because we think we do it wrong. Or that it’s sleazy. But again, it’s a matter of persective. I spoke about this on LinkedIn: Check out the post here and leave me comment if you agree (or disagree)!