You can’t make yourself smarter. You can only make yourself more experienced. 

What we generally describe as expertise doesn’t come from innate ability, it comes from the wisdom gathered by walking a road many times. That point where you can say, “I’ve seen this before…I know what to do next.”

But when you are making something new, there’s no way you can have seen it before. You won’t know with any certainty what the thing to do next is. You’ll just have to choose some thing that’s next. And a lot of times, you’ll find out what you chose was wrong.  And then you’ll choose something else.

The best way to find out which of your ideas are really good ideas is to tell everyone all your ideas and learn which ones are bad.

I’ve been trying to put myself in some new spaces lately. 

Going into them with the full knowledge that I’m going to look silly has been very helpful. As long as I remember that the best way to stop looking so lost is to keep walking the path until it becomes familiar, I can deal with the temporary embarrassment that comes with looking stupid. 

(The safer option, of course, is to just not walk the path at all. If that’s where you're leaning, see Step 1.)

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© Andy Zimney and Leading Off the Cuff, 2015.

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Andy Zimney is an organizational leader, coach, improviser, speaker, and facilitator. Andy is founder and principal at Leading Off the Cuff: Where exploration meets execution.