Saturday, July 31, 2010

So, What's New?

   One way to Dare to Excel, is to try something new.  Not just your first bite of sushi, but a new way of doing something, such as a new programming language or technique.

   At work, my current project (at the time I first wrote this, years ago) is trying a few new techniques.  (At my suggestion, another way to Dare to Excel.)  At the meetings introducing these, there was no objection voiced.  However, one person told the manager much later, that he was very opposed.  It may even have been a factor in his decision to leave the company.  Another person claimed, shortly thereafter, not to have time to learn these new techniques.

   Actual opposition after careful consideration, and lack of time, may be reality in these cases.  However, frequently such reasons are simply masks for fear.  (Or for laziness, but that's a whole 'nother story.)

   The familiar routine can be comforting, even if you know that it is not accomplishing the desired results.  The prospect of changing your ways can be daunting.

   But there's a word for people who won't try something new.  In fact, there are many words for them.

   The kindest of these is "conservative", though in this case taken to an extreme, as in, "stick-in-the-mud, conservative fuddy-duddy".  (And no, I don't mean the political type of conservative, aka "right-wing", as opposed to "liberal" or "left-wing".  I refer to the older definition, "conserving of existing institutions", or "cautious in making changes".)

   When it comes to your career, though, the most appropriate word that springs to my mind is: "obsolete".

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Confidence Tricks?

   Many people don't speak up or take action, because they lack confidence.  So how does one gain confidence?  Of course most people gain confidence over the course of life, but that's rather slow.  Then there's the famous "fake it 'til you make it", and other such tricks, but even those are much easier said than done -- and tend to lead to bravado, not confidence.

   What do I recommend instead?  Go join Toastmasters International.  Yes, most people think of it as a public speaking training organization, but those skills are only part of what you can get out of it.  It will certainly help you learn those skills... and other forms of communication... and leadership... and help you conquer any fears you may have of those tasks.

   Along the way, though, it will also help you be much more confident, not just in the course of giving a speech or being suddenly saddled with some sort of leadership responsibilities, but in general as well.  I for one know that, had I never joined Toastmasters, I would never have dared to do -- in some cases, might not have thought to do -- many of the things that made me the success I am today... or even to start this blog.

   Now it's your turn.  How did you conquer the nagging fears holding you back, and gain the confidence to Dare to Excel?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome to Dare2XL!

   No, it's not about daring to supersize your meal, twice.  Nor is it about daring to wear the clothes you'd need as a result.  It's about daring to excel.  No, I don't mean doing spreadsheets!  I mean speaking up or taking other such action, when taking the "easy way out" would yield less-than-excellent results.

   For instance, say your work group is using horribly inefficient processes.  You could "go with the flow", do nothing, and just collect a paycheck as compensation for your misery.  Or you could speak up about your ideas how to do things better.  Possible upside: better job, as your current one improves.  Possible downside: better job, after you're fired from this one, or you quit when it fails to improve.  Yes, the downside has some disruption, but that's why so many people don't Dare to Excel!

   Over the coming years, we'll be looking at lots of situations where "going with the flow" results in the "same old shhhhhtuff" that never was any good.  We'll look at how to look at things, other ways to gain confidence, and other ways to excel where others might not dare.  We'll even look at fools rushing in where angels or wise men (depending on your source) fear to tread, and find a middle path.

   I've got a bunch of ideas -- in fact, many of them already written up, in the old version of this blog.  (See "Old Blog" link.)  But even my supply of ideas, he said ever so humbly, is not infinite.  So, if there's any situation you'd like me to address, or that you'd like to bring up yourself, just let me (or rather, all of us) know!  That's what blog comments are for.  So dare to speak up -- Dare to Excel!