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Welcome to this Navigate the Chaos blog post. To hire Michael for a keynote speech, workshop, or presentation be sure to visit the Contact page. You can also purchase a copy of the latest Navigate the Chaos collection and download the Google calendar for free.

How often do you move forward despite thinking you are not ready?

Today is December 26 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you move forward despite thinking you are not ready?” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” Those who navigate the chaos move forward despite thinking they are not ready by ‘feeling the wall all the while their heart is a patter and a pitter.’

People who navigate the chaos know they may not have all the answers, but they still figure out a way to move forward. Any small step forward is progress. How often do you remind yourself of that? Some people never get started because they live a life of believing they are never ready. Once you can move forward despite thinking you are not ready though, you can help yourself navigate the chaos of life.

Actor Fritz Weaver was a familiar stage and screen presence for six decades, with appearances in more than 130 films and TV series and won a Tony Award for Best Actor for the 1970 drama “Child’s Play.” Other Broadway productions include “The Power and the Glory,” “The Chalk Garden,” “Baker Street” (as Sherlock Holmes), “The Price” and “The Crucible.” The actor, with a long string of Shakespearean roles under his belt, said in a 2004 interview with Broadway World that Hamlet was the most rewarding, even though - in 1958 - he wasn’t ready for it. “Not too young - I was unprepared for it. I said, ‘I’m not ready, I’m not ready.’ John Houseman kept saying, ‘That’s perfect. That’s so Hamlet-like.’ … They talked me into it. I still wake up early in the morning and think about moments in it, and I think, ‘Now I know how to do that!’”

Today’s strategy of moving forward despite thinking you are not ready is actually grounded in the latest academic research. In their book The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders, authors Elena Botelho and Kim Powell concluded “when it comes to proving CEO mettle, there is no more powerful catapult than what we call the ‘big leap.’” The big leap allows you to catapult your personal or professional development. It will require you to leave your comfort zone for an extended period of time. The big leap will challenge your assumptions, require you to think differently, and have you let go of the past.

As Botelho and Powell noted:

“Accepting the challenge of a role that is a big strength from what you are done previously-either because the role is much larger than anything you have done before or because it takes you into unfamiliar territory. With a big leap you may find yourself overnight managing a hundred times more people than you ever have before or taking on roles for which you do not have the required experience. A big leap, when successful, demonstrates you have the ability to thrive in a new, uncertain environment. It demonstrates your ability to scale your leadership skills and deliver results even amid a new and much more complex terrain. Your success with a big leap suggests that you have the skills, acumen, and temperament to make the biggest leap of all, to the highest levels of senior management and even to CEO.”

While some people wait for the big leap to appear before them, Botelho and Powell found through their research that the most successful people went looking for one.

  • How often do you move forward despite thinking you are not ready?

  • How often do you go out and seek a big leap that will challenge you to grow both personally and professionally?

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