Where are you on life's journey? If you have more than a couple of years of adult experience behind you, you probably can look back on some deed, attitude, or idea from an earlier time and say to yourself, "Wow! What was I thinking? That was a dumb idea, or a foolish thing to do."
No doubt there are similar memories from childhood as well. Those can mostly be chalked up to youthful or childish inexperience. Once one has reached the point of living as an independent self-supporting adult, the childish inexperience has largely disappeared and we expect of ourselves more reasoned behavior and attitudes. Are we justified in those expectations? Well, sometimes!
If you look back in your life and find things to question or criticize, you're not alone. The article I refer to this week describes the responses Mark Zuckerberg got when he asked Bill and Melinda Gates about what advice they would give their younger selves if that were possible.
What Would Bill Gates Advise His Younger Self?
on Mark Zuckerberg's question to Bill Gates during a public interview of Mr. & Mrs. Gates In New York.
Gates' answer was that, in his time of less experience, he thought smart people had the "world by the tail" - they could do whatever needed to be done. He's learned, with more experience, that "smart" people are often not the most capable.
For me, it's worth noting that everyone has something of value to offer to life and to their fellow man. In particular I've noted in organizations that many of the best ideas come from the people "on the front lines". I wrote about this some months ago in
describing the culture
at Benno Dorer's Clorox Company. T
he people "doing the work" of a company often have practical knowledge about many things that the company leaders miss in their 30,000' view. And listening to those people can do wonders for their self-esteem, even if you can't always implement their ideas - for some reason which you, of course, explain to them.
Often someone, perhaps with a very low IQ, will have some insight or character trait that endears them to their family and friends. This uniqueness may also make them particularly well-suited for some particular task or function in society or a workplace. Remember Forest Gump?
Melinda Gates' Answer?
When it was Melinda's turn to answer Zuckerberg's question, she said she would recommend that she trust herself more than she did as a young adult.
How many times have you stopped yourself from some significant pursuit because you thought, "I can't do this" or "I don't know enough". Melinda Gates' advice? Go for it! Usually
90% of your ability to do something is in your attitude. Even if you need to learn something to be able to accomplish the task at hand, learn what you need to and jump right in. Self-doubt will accomplish nothing. Force yourself to step out of your "comfort zone" - the more you do that the more you build self-confidence and the easier it becomes to challenge yourself.
I'd love to hear stories about accomplishments by less "smart" people, or a time when you or someone you know overcame a self-doubt and did something you may have thought you were incapable of. Reply to this message or go here to discuss your thoughts.