Trish, Scarlett and I went shopping recently – my first experience in a shopping centre with a baby. We had a list of things that we needed to do, so we thought divide and conquer. I had my half of the list, Trish had her half, and we were to meet at a cafe at the end. I was taking Scarlett, so Trish asked me if I wanted her to open the pram for her. I’ll be right, I answered, thinking to myself that I’ve got three degrees, I think I can open a pram.
Ten minutes later I stopped two women walking past. “Do you know how to operate this thing? It doesn’t look like this when my wife uses it.” She went straight to the magic switch hidden somewhere out of sight, saying, “Yeah, they’re tricky.” Luckily Scarlett had slept through it all rather than cried.
So I took Scarlett out of the car seat, put her in the pram, and we headed off. Or at least we went to head off, but the hand brake was on. Put me in any car on the planet, and I reckon I could find the hand brake. But do you think I could find it on the pram. With no other helpful women in the vicinity I was forced to ring Trish (who was already half way through her list by this time) and ask her what to do.
I reckon stuff falls into three categories. You’ll want to concentrate here because I’m about to get technical. The three categories are:
1. stuff we can do 2. stuff we can’t do 3. stuff we might be able to do.
Turns out for me opening the pram falls into the 2nd category - stuff I can’t do category.
The last category is the key to everything. The stuff we might be able to do. This is the domain where we have our breakthroughs, where we have our biggest wins, and where we get our biggest learning.
Unfortunately most of us spend most of our time in the first category, doing stuff we know that we can do. Not risking the stuff we might be able to do in case we fail. Not venturing right to the edge or our ability, and outside our comfort zone.
I also think that often the stuff we might be able to do is self-fulfilling. If we believe we can do it, we’re right. If we believe we can’t, we’re also right. And I’d much rather err on the side of over-confidence and having a crack (even if it means egg on my face every now and then), than playing it safe and sticking to what I know I can do.
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