Some Friendly Advice
“I found the most amazing job! I think I’m going to apply!” She said to her friend one day
“ Let me give you some friendly advice”, her friend responded. “I don’t think you can do that role. Think about it. You are barely qualified. You do not have the requisite experience, and before you argue, your little stint in the Company does not count.”
“Really? It looks very interesting. I think I could do it. I mean, maybe it will be difficult to convince them that I can, but I think I can at least do some of it … “
”Are you sure ? Remember how out of practice you are. I don’t think it will be a good use of your time to apply”
“ Hmmm … perhaps you are right. I never really did finish that project at the Company and the parts that I did finish didn’t mean much. I mean I finished it in a week. It can’t have been that great. I won’t bother applying. Let me not waste my time and theirs” she replies
“Yea, good shout. Don’t bother applying. Here’s this one. It seems simple enough for you to do. Why don’t you apply there?”
“Yes, it does look rather accessible, and I tick all these boxes. Although it doesn’t have any of the more technical stuff that I want to do. Won’t I be bored?”
“Well, that’s too bad. Perhaps if you had finished those courses you started or pushed yourself more in your last gig you would be better placed to do a more technical role. But right now, I am afraid you are sorely unqualified. Maybe you can build your way up in this one.”
“Yes. You are right again. It is too late for me now. I am going to go for the more accessible one instead and then I can work my way up. I will just be determined and work hard, up skill myself after work everyday and then I will get there.”
“Good. It is best to stick to what you know for sure that you can do. It is only fair to the Company you know, even if you manage to convince them to give you the job by some luck, it would be dishonest of you, since they will begin paying you for something that you cannot even do.”
“Yes, you’re right. That will be unfair of me. Let me leave room for someone that is better prepared and will deliver better results than I can.”
“Nice! Don’t worry I will help you study for the next job so you can start doing what you really want then.”
And so, on the basis of this counsel, she applies to the one that she is sure she can do with little to no doubt. After all, it is only right and fair that she takes a job that she is capable of doing. She can not stand the thought of stealing from a company by showing up on her first day with no clue. In all this, she does not stop to think that this is the norm for most people - showing up with no clue, but figuring it out anyway. She does not realise that she will be hired for her potential- her ability to think and the unique perspective she brings to the team. Somehow, she does not understand that a necessary aspect of growth and improvement is moving from not knowing to knowing or not being able to being able. She thinks, in her fixed mindset, that everything she needs she must know now and every challenge is a sign of her failure, not an indicator of an opportunity for her to grow.
So she suffers.
She suffers because she is not growing and she is not growing because she is restricted and she is restricted because she has learnt to be safe so that she can always be right.
But she can’t be right all the time because life is a series of being wrong and the way to win at being wrong is to see it as part of your journey of learning.
Taking the friendly advice leaves little to no room for her expansion. Soon, she becomes apathetic and sets in motion, the self-fulfilling prophecy, of being unable. For you cannot finish what you did not attempt to start.
And her friend? The one that told her she was unqualified and should not bother applying, where is she? She has stayed right there with her, blaming her for taking the easy way out.
“This job is such a drag. You figured out this stuff in a month. You should’ve gone for a better one.”
“You’re right, I know. I should have.”
“I mean, these people are clueless. Their systems are so slow. Have you even learnt anything new since you got here?
“No … not really, I haven’t. It’s a terrible company. They are dragging my career down.”
“Yes they are. And you too are being useless. I mean, why are you still here? You need a better gig for sure. But remember, be realistic about it. Don’t go overshooting. Stay in your lane. God know you have already wasted the time you spent here.”
At no point, does it ever occur to her, that maybe she is taking advice from the wrong person. Maybe she just needed to seek clarity instead of living in doubt of what she can do and what she cannot do. Maybe she needs to be responsible for herself and develop a certainty that only comes with trying things out.
Maybe, she needs new friends. The type that remind her of the truth.
The truth that you never really know until you try, try and try again
And when the worst thing that can happen to you is hearing a “no”, you keep trying until the “yes” comes
That if things are always super easy, then there is no serious growth taking place
That if you hide till you are perfect, then you will stay hidden forever
That learning is by doing and practice is the reason for excellence, not luck
That ‘you must do whatever it takes’ has so much meaning when you give yourself permission to take what you want
That if you let people tell you who you are, without building a firm grasp of your person, then you will be everything and nothing at once
Most of us have this special friend in our heads. This is the friend that says “no, it’s too risky, too dangerous, too likely to end in failure”. We think it is a friendly voice. It does not present any unreasonable arguments and is only looking out for our safety.
Don’t listen to the one that keeps you safe. For the comfort of safety is deceitful in that it creates the kind of weakness that results from a lack of adversity, struggle, effort and perseverance. It creates a danger of not being able to fight for yourself or take responsibility for your life.
But it is the first to blame your ‘weakness’ and the loudest voice to call out your lack of strength.
Don’t listen to it. It lies. And the protective cocoon it claims to create is in fact, a cage.
Don’t let yourself be convinced that you can’t. Because I promise you, you can.