Will Lukang, CLDC, CSM, PMP
Sometimes we go through life and come up with things that we think we could do and things that we should not do. It could be a byproduct of our experiences, upbringing or relationships we had through the various stages of our life.
Each situation provides us with experience that creates filters that become the way we see the world around us. Over time we create our own belief system that becomes our guide on how we conduct ourselves.
Here are some examples
- You work in a company and one of your managers told you that you cannot approach a certain person or speak to them because you’re not the same level. If you take one person’s opinion as truth, then you’ll avoid interacting with any managers because you’re not at their level.
- You’re told that you’re not allowed to make certain decisions because it is not your pay grade to do so. It could be true depending on the issue on hand, but by taking such a response at face value, from your perspective it becomes your reality.
- When we were young, we were told not to talk to strangers. While it was true when we were young, that stays as fact and it becomes a filter that prevents us from networking or approaching people when we are adults. It is not because we are afraid something will happen to us, but rather we are not used to approaching and introducing ourselves.
What’s my point? When you’re not in a box, don’t create a virtual box and box yourself in. Sometimes all our preconceived notions create this virtual boundary that limits our ability to do things effectively. There are times that we are paralyzed by over thinking, thereby failing to make the necessary progress needed, then eventually we are marked down as ineffective on our performance review. As one of my managers used to say, “Don’t take the pill before you have a headache.” I would say, “Don’t box yourself in when there is no box. You’ll stifle your progress by doing so.”
Here is some simple advice:
- Perception could be your reality, but it does not have to be. Asking clarifying questions allows you to assess the situation and make an objective decision.
- Past experience is a good reference point, but does not have to be a matter of fact, unless it is a mistake made and lesson learned from it must be retained forever. As time goes by things change; what does not work before might work now—like being comfortable in introducing yourself when networking. When you’re a child, it is right not to speak to strangers, but when you’re an adult and are attending a networking event, you need to introduce yourself and connect with other people in the same field.
- Ask questions; the worst people could say is no and it does not cost you anything to know the answer.
Next time, don’t put yourself in a box. Start fresh and step back and find out the answer before you decide your next step. A box is only good for putting things in it, but definitely not good for a human being.