Career Advice

The Transition from Being Extremely Bad at What you Do

Posted by Ali
min read
Anh Nguyen V Nb Xj3 Yv5o Unsplash

In the first 4 weeks into my job, I sat down with our Managing Director one Thursday, one on one, with nothing else in the room except a whiteboard. We did some very basic training and he explained that it being my first month on the job, that everything I thought I was ready for, I was not and everything I thought I was good at, may be put into question in the near future! Safe to say, I walked out of the room with a point to prove, but he was right all along, I needed to crawl before I could walk.

Using the white board, he drew 4 squares and labelled them the 4 stages of learning and they looked like this;

Box 1. We all start here, not really knowing how little we know until we start doing whatever it is we have been tasked to do. Tasks we have never previously performed. This is where we think we are the absolute best at whatever is given to us and we run at it full steam ahead, not taking the time to learn from those more experienced people around us. It is only upon reflection we realise with shock and horror, just how bad we actually are… this leads us to box no. 2.

Box 2. Ok, you now realise you need to take a step back and really reflect on what you have been doing and all the ways you can improve, you know how bad you are or what you’re bad at and now need to come up with a strategy for improvement. Improvement may come in many shapes or forms, more training exercises, mentoring and coaching from your boss, or simply just practice and repetition. And now you’re ready for box no. 3.

Box 3. You are now armed with what you need to improve your game! It’s time to put it into practice. You will slip up a few times, that’s always going to happen, but it will happen less frequently the more you travel along your journey. You will notice the difference between the way you are now and the way you used to be, but you still need to think about what to say and what to do and keep referring back to your training, until of course you hit box no. 4.

Box 4. Now you are a seasoned operator, everything comes naturally and you can call yourself an expert in your field. Does this mean the learning stops? Absolutely not! Technology and legislation are always changing, so you will need to be adaptable, the difference is you will be able to smoothly roll through the changes.

Box 4 is where we all end up eventually (unless we give up and switch careers). It just takes time, resilience and of course the willingness to learn, above all. I’m sure now looking back, that all of you can picture yourself through each stage of this learning model and can say through your willingness to learn, that you are currently sitting in Box no. 4, or hope to be!