Wednesday, August 17, 2016

You Will Suck at First, but Don’t Give Up

I have a confession to make.
In the quiet of the night, I sometimes watch things my friends don’t I watch.
Don’t worry. It’s Alice Fredenham singing for a Britain’s Got Talent audition.
She’s talented. She’s mesmerizing. Was she born with that talent?

It’s Easy to Watch, Hard to Try

Why do I share this with you? Try this one.
A few weeks ago, I lead a small introductory JavaScript class.
I encouraged everyone to follow along on their laptops, but instead everyone just watched me.
I stopped, and told them, learning to program is like learning by debugging(meaning you learn by fixing things that are broken).
I got blank stares.
Last week, I encouraged everyone to improve their product management game by building things.
Thinking about these stories made me realize that this advice was not very helpful, because there is a huge inertia to starting.
The root cause of the inertia is fear.
Fear of failing. Fear of imperfection. Fear of embarrassment.

Standing on the Shoulders of …

Thankfully, you don’t have to be afraid. Just as I could secretly shed a tear watching Britain’s Got Talent, you can start using a secret technique.
The technique is simple.
Smart people think of original ideas. Smarter people borrow (or steal) the idea of smart people.
Then, just add a little bit of your own idea to the base. Your own little spice to the base soup; it’s your secret sauce, magic dust.
Seriously. I was reading an interview of John Clark in Balsamiq Interviews (go ahead, it’s a FREE e-book. Download it.) He said something that perfectly illustrates this.
“I saw something like User Testing and thought, “That’s quite good. It’s a good idea that delivers a lot of value,” but I felt that there were things it didn’t do. I don’t like to knock a competitor, but I had my own view of how it could work. They’ve proven the market, clearly. They’ve been going a few years now. So rather than taking on a very risky and completely new type of application, I thought …”
Well, there are a lot of gems there in that short interview passage. I leave it to you to dig them out and apply them in your life.

Change Your Attitude

So, there you go. You have to let go of your fear of starting, and get excited. And by not having to start from scratch, you get an easy win to start. From what I’ve seen, it’s a big mind shift for many folks.
The technical term for this is metanoia, which means a shift of mind. The non-technical term is something like “think outside the box.” (Please stop saying that.)
And it’s not just you. If you’re a product manager or a team leader, perhaps you need to instill this new attitude in your team. Somehow!
I recently read a book that develops some of these ideas more expansively, and I think you’ll enjoy reading it.

by authors whose last names make me hungry and want to read Moby Dick again.

Happy building!


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