Have you ever spoken confidently about something you know little about? C’mon now!
There I was in the middle of a serious client meeting when the dreaded “blockchain” topic reared its ugly head. Like most people, I have heard of blockchain and know enough to be dangerous. But to me, it is like dealing with the sun. Don’t stare at it directly. Just get a sense of it.
“What do know about blockchain?” my client asked.
“Plenty”, I lied. “It’s a virtual ledger for cryptocurrency and its very powerful.”
This seemed to satisfy the client. Although the reality is, I don’t really know what cryptocurrency is (Bitcoin? Of course!) and I’m not even sure if I could define a “ledger”.
Feeling a little insecure, I quickly turned the conversation around.
“I’d love to know more about your blockchain strategy!”
For the next 30 minutes, the client waxed poetically about their grand design. Apparently, blockchain was creating a paradigm shift. They were smashing silos. New markets were emerging. Blah, blah.
At the end of the discussion, my colleague and I walked out very confident.
“That was a great meeting!”
“Dilly, Dilly!”, I screamed with enthusiasm.
We both laughed and shook hands.
But it really wasn’t a great meeting. I wasted the client’s time by making him answer a question I couldn’t possibly understand in the moment. And I wasted my time by having to listen. What purpose did that serve?
And to add insult to injury, I don’t really even know what “Dilly! Dilly” means!
Why was I so afraid to admit a vulnerability? And why do we feel the need to bury our heads in the sand and cover up those blind spots in our work and personal lives?
We Can’t Pretend to Know Everything
In our work lives, there is always going to be an issue we don’t fully understand. We can’t expect to be the expert in everything. That is why we have teammates. That is why we have specialists. We can’t do it alone.
Even the most seasoned salesperson gets flustered. Even the most tenured professor gets stumped. Even the most decorated coach get confused. Even the best student gets stymied. Even the most senior attorney gets caught off guard. It’s okay. We are not machines.
But we have to own it!
There is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t really know, but I’ll find out!” It demonstrates a refreshing honesty and it opens up the possibility of learning new things. If we are constantly masking our shortcomings, how can we grow?
And we might even find that by displaying the naked truth, the person sitting across from us will admit they really understand the concept either!
Imagine if we all got real with one another? Imagine how much more we could accomplish! Imagine how much more trust we could earn! The “smartest” person in the room isn’t always the smartest person in the room. We need to have faith in our instincts. And stay honest even in times of doubt.
We All Have Vulnerabilities
This is even more critical in our personal lives. We all have vulnerabilities. Eventually, they will be exposed. So why try to hide them?
It’s cool if you don’t know how to fix that leaky faucet. Don’t provide a Band-Aid fix to prove you are in control. That will only cause a flood down the road. Don’t worry if you aren’t good with numbers. You can’t pretend the bills are adding up. That will only cause a financial tsunami in the end. And don’t try to hold back those tears in “The Notebook”. Nobody is going to think less of you if you let it all out (well, maybe a little less!)
But the point is, it does us no good to pretend. We are who we are. Honesty and transparency should be valued in any relationship. Ignoring our blind spots only stifles our growth and causes larger issues down the road. Stop the madness!
Resiliency Requires the Truth
The more we “keep it real” in the good times, the better off we will be when the tide turns against us. Resilience requires us to deal with the raw truth. We have to recognize that we are in a tough jam. We have to accept accountability for our predicament. And we have to demonstrate confidence by taking definitive action to come back stronger than ever.
We can all do it. But it starts with owning up to our blind spots and making appropriate choices. Burying our heads in the sand and glossing over our weak points will only delay our pain.
We can’t understand Blockchain unless we dig in. We can’t get rich on Bitcoin unless we study the economic fundamentals. We can’t learn how to fix things unless we watch some Youtube videos and make the effort. We can’t learn how to love, unless we are willing to be vulnerable and get hurt.
We can’t grow, unless we admit our weaknesses and actively work to improve.
The choice is ours. And as the New Year quickly approaches, let’s all toast to keeping it real in 2018.