My favorite time to do something is the second time.
The first time I do anything, I don’t know exactly what to expect. I don’t know how to anticipate what might go wrong. I don’t know the unwritten dynamics at play. I don’t know what I don’t know.
But once I can do something the first time, evaluation kicks into gear. After going through the struggles of the first time, I know how to anticipate, how to adapt, and what areas need attention. And evaluating is where I feel like I’m at my best.
But before I get to the second time, I have to go through the first time. And in order to go through the first time, I have learned to acknowledge the questions I have about something, and to do my best to answer them. That’s what I call attacking the question marks.
For me, the unknown can be paralyzing. I’m not a planner, but I’m much more comfortable with a plan. So, in preparation, I have to lean into the questions I have as a source of inspiration, not a source of inaction.
Here are three ways I’ve learned to attack the question marks.
People I Know
In March of 2022 I decided it was time for me to start lifting weights, but I didn’t know where to start. The only time I’d ever lifted weights was in high school, so I had a lot of question marks. That’s where Brian came in. He had experience lifting, so we agreed to be gym buddies (that sounds legit, right?). He knew what he was doing so I borrowed his experience and insight as I started.
There’s a good chance whatever you’re about to tackle has been done by someone else. Not always, but usually. Who do you know that you can ask for wisdom/insight/advice? Write down the questions you have for them ahead of time and see what you can learn.
People I Don’t Know
I play guitar. I spend more time gathering knowledge on guitars. I spend even more time shopping for guitars. Not to buy, but to learn. But sometimes to buy.
Recently, I saw a guitar for sale for a decent price, but didn’t know much about it. So I went to the internet. I read posts about that guitar on message boards, watched videos, and did a little research from the manufacturer’s website. I attacked the question mark by using the insight and experience of others. I did not know anyone who owned one, so I had to broaden my search.
Often you’re going to come up on question marks that can’t be answered by people in your circle. Broaden out. Google it. Depending on the scope, there may be books that will help you work through it. But learn to borrow wisdom from people you don’t know as an avenue to attack the question marks.
Just Do The Thing
You might say I’m an information junkie. I like learning new things and about things. But sometimes, the best and most effective way to attack a question mark is to just do the thing. After all, if you’re like me and your favorite time is the second time, then get the first time over with!
What question mark is holding you back? How can you be a resource for someone else? Is there something in your life that just needs you to act? What are you waiting for?