Doing our best work often means pushing past what is familiar, safe and comfortable. This is particularly true when the work we are doing is complex and uncertain, where we face many options but no obvious choices, and when each decision introduces new complexities and consequences. There is no clear plan, no well-defined path and few easy answers. Leaving our comfort zone and building good solutions to challenging problems means we still need some means of navigating and course correcting. The form that takes requires answering some different and difficult but absolutely essential questions.
I have always taught that a central principle of managing projects is that you should have a clear picture of what “done” and “done well” look like. That’s easy to define when something is straightforward and clear. It becomes much more complicated when we start straying into the realm of creativity, and of doing work that is complex, messy and uncertain. When we have many choices and options of how we might proceed, and those choices lead exponentially to other implications and impacts, it can be hard to know how to proceed, where to look or where the finish line is. The good news is that there are some thing to look for that can help.
I started my career with what might have been misplaced confidence. The more my expertise caught up with my self-perception, the more I came to terms with what I know. The greater I can acknowledge the limitations on my knowledge and understanding, the more clearly and confidently I can speak to what I do know. Finding your voice is essential and influences how you show up in the world. It is a long process of reflection that starts with some important first steps.
You’ve decided upon your stated direction. You have committed to the attainment of one or two strategic priorities that will most move you forward. And then an opportunity presents itself; a door opens with an interesting and exciting opportunity you didn’t know existed. Is this opportunity a meaningful new option or merely a shiny new distraction? These are the choices that we have to make as we navigate towards the future we most value.