Interpersonal EDGE: Grab Opportunity to Walk on Water
Sunday, March 25, 2012
By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. My boss thinks I walk on water and is ready to give me a large project. I'm just not sure I have all the skills to succeed at the project. On the other hand, I'd be set for a promotion if I do well. I'm getting insomnia trying to decide what to do. What would your advice be?
A. I'd side with Theodore Roosevelt in advising you to grab onto your new opportunity. Roosevelt was often heard recommending to his staff: "Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly, I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it." 
The truth is, the one thing no boss wants to experience is having a subordinate make him look bad. If your boss thinks you are ready for this new project, it's highly unlikely you will fail.
I realize that you may think it's easy for me to say that, sitting here writing my advice column. Then again, I am not a journalist by training, and to write this column I had to take the same risk you are now facing. Fortunately, I had good editors, and the rest of my writing career is history.
The point I want to make is this: To have an interesting career, you will often be faced with cool opportunities you don't know how to take advantage of. People that end up climbing the food chain in their industries are willing to risk looking foolish, making mistakes and being mentored. I strongly recommend to my executive coaching clients that they cultivate the humility to learn from people smarter than them.
If you only take opportunities at work that are comfortable, you'll suffer with boredom, a stagnant career, and missed degrees from the school of workplace challenges.
Once we get settled in our career, we usually discover things that need to get done that no one is doing, has thought of, or was interested in before. Most breakthroughs in the workplace are brought about thanks to those intrepid souls who venture where no one has gone before to reinvent the way their industry functions.
To lower your anxiety, you might want to check with your boss to confirm that he or she is not expecting you to know everything about your new project out of the gate. Your boss is, however, most certainly expecting you to go forth with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
Consider this before you set out with your new projects. Human beings live in one of two states most of the time: 1) safety and boredom, or 2) excitement and fear. You are doing in your job what adventurers have done throughout time: leaving your familiar map behind to explore new worlds.
The last word(s)
Q. My boss is always telling our team not to be "judgmental." Is it even possible for human beings to walk around without making judgments about what is going on around them?
A. No. Physicist Richard Feynman once said, "Keep an open mind - but not so open that your brain falls out." Unless you get rid of your brain, your brain will judge what is going on around you.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker.  She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact  her at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the March 25, 2012 - April 7, 2012 Edition 

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