Be smarter by complicating your life

Long an narrow foot suspended bridge

You are smarter than you think, but the fear of failing limits your successes. With small steps and some courage you can achieve great improvements and better visibility. Courage comes when you go outside of your comfort zone and this can be done by complicating your life. This post is about courage, trust and discovery.

Long an narrow foot suspended bridge

Little risks, some courage and the view on the other side is beautiful

My EUREKA moment

Some years ago I was working for Cisco in the Cloud expert team. I had joined Cisco less than 3 months, coming from my own small IT company. I was a newbie of big corporations and big customers. As the cloud specialists team we were working with a very big customer and I had been assigned the task of creating a document with a five figure value and convincing the customer to sign it. As this was my first document of this kind, I was planning to rely on my fellow team members. But the whole team minus me was sent for 2 weeks in the US for training. I’m alone! I felt betrayed but had to deliver. My document was not a Shakespeare paper, it had mistakes and other issues. But it got signed and I received compliments from the customer. That day I understood that I’m smarter than what I believed I am.

The issue

Fear of failure is a blocker at every level of the work hierarchy. It is the main reason you are wasting your time and others’ time.  Fear of failure is what makes managers micro-manage and everyone ask for support or confirmation for almost everything. We are all asking and answering too much.

Failing is part of life

Failing is a part of life. Very successful persons failed at one point.

  • Henry Ford – The car company was his third try
  • Steve Jobs with his venture called NEXT between being fired and coming back to Apple
  • Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before creating a working bulb
  • Searching “the biggest failures of successful people” on Google returns 49M links

but our education systems says it’s bad, very bad

For the first 20 years of your life you’ve been brainwashed with the message that Failing is bad. Let me repeat that, it’s important: from 3 years old until the end of school or college you are told that Failing is bad. Well it’s not, it’s a way to discover what doesn’t work and do better next time. I might sound bold, but I’m also affected by the fear of failure and I’m on a journey to overcome it and you are the spectators. First discovery: every step requires some more courage than the previous one.

How to get out of the system and be smarter

You’re smarter than you think. I know it. Now you need to discover it. Big limitations generate big creativity and big results. It’s not only me saying this, Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Psychcentral all agree. So by adding some limitations to your life, and doing some experiments you’ll climb in your self-esteem. The following are two examples to start being courageous and discover a smarter yourself.

Add some complications in your life:

If you work with e-mail – be slow in responding

Let 2 hours pass between a request in an e-mail and your reply. You will see how others manage without you and how much time you create for yourself. Trust others’ capacity! If you feel guilty about it, just remember that if someone is going to be fired or a company collapse because you’re on vacation out of the office then those should be your priorities.

If you are a manager/leader – lead by promises*

  1. Be very specific on what you want
    • (I want a report about our latest quarter results as a line diagram and a table with the data, …
  2. Agree with your subordinate  when he/she will deliver
    1. Tuesday morning at 10am on my desk
  3. Promise to be there if there is anything that is not clear.
  4. Trust him/her. Until the delivery date assume that everything is ok and don’t think about it, enjoy more time in your life. You might even go home early today.

To start, put short tasks with short deadlines (half a day to a day)

We are all asking and answering too much – Frank Contrepois


Be courageous and register to this blog on the right. If you feel fearless, do register and comment. Thank you and have a great life!

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