Among Giants

Among Giants

I have a project. An exciting, new project. A project that I have been talking about for months. A project that partners me with another person (someone who is extremely intelligent, organized, and a deep thinker). We met on the project a few times, took notes, and had a game plan with various assignments.

This project has been on my plate for a few months. I started some research, then stopped. I opened the file to start writing, then stopped. I took the folder out of my briefcase, only to put it back in. For whatever reason, I could not “Ship It” or make progress.

Something was triggering this procrastination. I tried to pin down the reason, but could not find the words.

I took a risk and called this partner. We decided to meet.

“I have to confess. Despite the excitement around this project and our discussions, I have not made any progress on my part.”

“Well, to be honest, I have had the same struggle.”

Another risk. The real risk.

“Ok, here is the thing. I am a little intimidated working with you on this project because you know this material and have studied it in more depth, and are so smart, and so…”

“What? You are intimidated by me?”

The reason for the mutual procrastination was revealed. We both viewed the other person as more competent, intelligent, and suited for this project. I am sure some it stems from the “Less Than Default Switch” and this setting skews our perspective of others.

Our conversation continued.

“It is almost as if I am among giants, when I compare myself to others.”

“Exactly, but I am still surprised you feel that way. I understand why I feel that way, but not you.”

Among giants. Our perceptions of others, their abilities, their accomplishments, their status can warp our own self-perception. This distortion can create the fear and insecurity that holds us back from trying, shipping, or stretching ourselves.

They are not actually giants. They are fellow travelers on this journey. But this problem seems older that just me and this project. Older than you and your project, idea, or journey as well.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about” Cassius

(Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

 

“I am good as possible”

I live in New Hampshire. With the exception of my time in the Navy and a few years of grad school, I have lived here my whole life.

Every winter, it snows here…a lot. The world slows down, and we tend to hibernate and stay inside more.

I have a confession: I never learned to ski.

Combine this fact with the fact that I agreed to chaperone my daughter’s ski club helped prompt me to do something that I have been meaning to do for years: learn to ski.

At 44 years old, I decided to stop putting this off and start taking a lesson (the Sunday before a Wednesday ski club). Despite my initial fear, of falling and/or making a fool of myself, the lesson went well and I had enough skills to chaperone. Enough skills to get by. I stared to wonder if I needed additional lessons.

I told this story to a friend. This friend had a story for me. Years ago when their young child was learning to ski, their family would spend days on the slopes. Most of the day was spent in lessons, and occasionally they would “free ski” afterwards. Their child had good skills and some natural talent for skiing and could out-ski most of their peers. The lessons continued.

After lunch, most of the family was going to ski the slopes and the young child had to return to their lesson. The child wanted to ski with the rest of the family, but the lesson continued in the afternoon. A meltdown ensued with this youngster trying to find a reason why they didn’t need to continue the lesson.

“I don’t need another lesson. I am good as possible!” they screamed.

We laughed at the story, but those words remained. “I am good as possible.”

How often do we think we are good enough at something and fail to continue to learn and challenge ourselves? When does “good enough” satisfy us so that we stop refining our skills? Lessons can be boring, especially when compared to skiing down the slopes.

For me, I decided to continue with the lessons. But this story and those words caused me to look to at my own life to see where I have shouted “I am good as possible” instead of realizing that I could improve with just a few more lessons.

Learning to Ski

P.S. For anyone who thinks they are too old, tired, experienced, afraid, (insert word here) to try something new, my instructor told me about a 78 year-old grandfather who decided to learn to snowboard so he could go down the slopes at least once with his grandchildren. And he did!