Series: "If I Knew Then..." TIP 2 Be Honest, But...


Be Honest, But…

Yesterday, I wrote about being honest. I gave the example of how I honestly told a future employer that I didn’t have the skills for the job, and it actually landed me the job. Today, I want to discuss your confidence and how you can say "yes" to a project, even when you're skills are shaky.

Let me start by saying that I’m not telling you to lie. What I’m going to tell you is probably not shocking for self-starters. Anyone who grabs challenges by the balls will totally understand where I’m coming from.

With Experience Comes Expertise

After being in a career for a little bit, or doing something that you are passionate about, people start regarding you as an expert. Oftentimes, it’s simply your passion and dedication to said interest that makes you appear to be an expert, even if you haven’t been properly schooled, or even took your own route of learning.

This is when requests for things in the realm of what you do start coming in. Maybe you’re a graphic designer who happens to be a fan of Disney animation. Because you’re “in the arts” and know a thing or two about the Easter eggs in the Pixar movies, you may get asked to work on an animated short. Do you know how to animate? No. But… how extreme is the task they are asking you to perform? Could you learn it over the weekend? If it’s something feasible, take them up on the offer.

Sure, I’ll Teach That

I had been working as a designer for a few years, and was also teaching college-level design courses when I was asked to teach an Intro to Flash Animation class. I told them I didn’t have much knowledge of Flash, but I was willing to learn over the weekend. They handed me the book that went along with the class and said that I could start teaching on Monday. I did exactly that, and had a successful class. Not only did the students turn out some brilliant work, but I learned a bunch of new skills to add to my arsenal.

So, what I’m saying is not to lie and say you can do something that you can’t, but to be open to learning, and learning fast! I never told the faculty administrator that I knew Flash, but I didn’t turn the job down, I was open to quickly learning the program and then turning around and teaching it.

Over my career, I’ve been presented with these types of “off-shoot” requests quite often. Most of the times it’s for things that I have knowledge of, but may not have hands-on experience with. I explain it just like that. I say, “I haven’t used XYZ first hand, but I know it does ‘insert detail here' and I’ve been wanting to check it out more in-depth. I’d be happy to research it, and see how I can work with it to help you achieve your goal.” This not only opens up a vulnerability, but immediately drops ego and makes you human. There’s something about the confidence of not knowing, yet wanting to learn and tackle a new skill, that really grips people. If you’re confident in yourself, others will be confident in you.

At no point are you falsifying your skillset, you’re simply opening yourself to something different, and if you’re a go-getter, you thrive in those types of situations anyways and will probably end up learning a skill that can take you on a totally different path. I’ve ended up working on some pretty amazing projects that I never thought I’d have any part of, just by saying “yes” to something out of my comfort zone. Is it uncomfortable, frustrating and scary? Yes, for a moment. But pushing yourself to be better, know more, and broaden you horizons will never harm you.

See ya tomorrow.

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