When I was about fourteen my parents sent me to live with a French family in Strasbourg for the summer. I had a grand time and wanted to do something to thank them for their hospitality. They suggested I cook the family an American dish. I offered fried chicken despite having no idea how to make it.
Rebecca Thomas, jumping in overconfidently since forever.
I asked my Mom to send me a recipe, handed the list to my host family and gave surprisingly little thought as to how I was going to pull this off. When the day arrived, I was left in the kitchen with the ingredients, my Mom’s recipe, and (gulp) the expectation to deliver. I stood there for a bit, let my questionable decision sink in, then got to work.
I have no memory of what that chicken tasted like. I do remember looking around the table to see if my family was actually eating it. They were, although I suspect politeness had a hand in that.
That story came to mind when I took a position as a Mentor for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce
. Despite working for myself in one capacity or another since my twenties, I hadn’t formally guided anyone through the development of their own business.
I was nervous about being able to provide value, see a clear path forward for other entrepreneurs, and understand problems within businesses I was not familiar with. I need not have been, I took to the work like a duck to water.
Twenty-two years of thinking on my feet and making course corrections comes with measurable wisdom. Helping others solve their problems, or at least provide clarity and steps forward requires that I pull from my own well of reserves.
In this context my failures become an asset. Especially since I have given them careful deliberation. That understanding is what I use to teach and guide others, and it is immensely rewarding work. In giving my all, my own thinking advances. Some days it feels like fireworks are going off in my brain. I love it.
We give lip service in this culture to valuing wisdom, but this is work that requires it. There is no short-cut to experience.
I use all of my knowledge, critical thinking and communication to arrive at a plan of action. In doing so I build my own confidence and appreciation for twenty years of jumping in and figuring it out later.
Thought exercises for business.