It only took me a few decades but I’ve learned the only way to get somewhere new is to ask for directions. If I’m never the new guy at the office I’ll never be the VP of the division. If I’m never the fat guy at the gym I’ll never be the fit guy at the beach. My nervous first date was a requirement for my eventual 30th wedding anniversary. Every MVP was a rookie and every star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was once a “nobody.”
The real lesson is that success is easier to envy than emulate. Acting like you have the answers is much harder in the long run than simply asking for help. I believe being unfamiliar and uncomfortable is the only path to being strong and certain.
In the short-term, it’s simpler to insulate yourself in a cocoon of comfort, convenience and predictability. But that same cocoon becomes a coffin when you starve off the very thing you need to ensure healthy growth – change. So I’m learning to embrace errors and seek surprises. For better or worse, problems pave the way to solutions. Permission to fail is the tool to succeed.
After all, smart men were once fools who asked for help. Wise men never stop asking.
So be the fat, foolish, new, nervous guy – just don’t stay that way. Watch out for the know-it-alls, they secretly want to be just like you.