No one Knows What They’re Doing

One of the most common talking points I have with other young professionals is in regards to what is expected of us as many of us have received very little training from our employers. Yet we are expected to wear multiple hats and get everything done, with deadlines of yesterday, while keeping up with our colleagues who have years of experience and training already under their belts.

This growing trend has been a frustration for me and the many other young professionals who just want to make the world better than it is. Plus, it is incredibly terrifying to be thrown a handful of projects with no idea on how to conquer them before their deadlines.

To me the feeling is like being thrown overboard in the middle of the ocean with a lifesaver and asked to get to shore with only the ability to swim. Sure, you’ve got a great foundation and a tool that can prepare you for the challenges ahead but: How can you find the shoreline? What resources will you have and/or find along the way? What obstacles will you encounter? How will you survive?

In my opinion, April from Parks and Recreation (video) said it best to her partner-in-crime, Andy:

“I’m going to tell you a secret about everyone else’s job: No one knows what they’re doing. Deep down everyone is just faking it until they figure it out. And you will, too, because you are awesome and everyone else sucks.”

AprilParksRec

I can’t think of anyone that hasn’t had a moment similar to Andy’s at least once in their career. We are all just fish swimming in an ocean navigating through rough waters, tidal waves, and at times, even hurricanes. These moments and hardships help define and guide us throughout our careers.

But, while I am still in the beginning stage of my career I am doubtful this feeling will ever go away; even if we do receive adequate training and support from our colleagues. There is no way to know everything as there will always be something new to learn and even a new, seemingly impossible project on the horizon.

So let’s navigate some rough waters together and make the world a better place. What say you?

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Which tool is the right one?

A tweet from Matt Kremer last month (listed below) sparked something greater with me that I wanted to share with others. Enjoy, and please comment on your own experiences, too!

Almost two years ago I was sitting with a colleague enjoying a cold beer and he mentioned something that has stuck with me ever since, “GIS is a tool, we use it to produce results but if we don’t understand what we need, it’s useless.

So incredibly true! As someone who has worked in many different sectors, I’ve applied GIS technology to many different departments, areas and projects.

Two years later, Matt’s tweet hit home yet again. As a developer – code isn’t the end goal, it’s a tool, like GIS is, to produce something great. Is it always the answer? No. But it could be.

What I’m getting at is – don’t think of the means to solve a problem, think about the end product (but remember that end product can change over time, too). Here’s a list of some of the questions I think to myself before initiating anything in my life:

  1. Why do this?
  2. What is the goal/purpose?
  3. Will I have help? Guidance? If yes, how much?
  4. What is the anticipated timeline?
  5. What do I expect to see when I’m done?

After answering some of these questions, we can better define the means, and which tools best suit our purpose and goals. Will we always use the right tool for the job? Not always but we can try our best to solve the problems that we face to find solutions – and I think that’s a pretty cool thing.

Change

By nature the human species does not adapt to change well. We are characters of routine and while we can adapt to any changes we can be hesitant to do so.

Think of it this way: What would you do if your boss told you to move to the other side of the building? What about if your mail carrier stopped delivering mail and packages to your dwelling/PO box? What would you do if a tornado destroyed your home and all of your belongings?

While these questions are drastic, even small changes can effect us drastically. The way someone drives in front of us on our daily commute, the way our food was prepared or even the way our hair looks in the morning when we wake up. All of these small changes can drastically change the minutes, hours, days or even weeks to come.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Don’t sweat the small changes and don’t be surprised when the big changes happen – most of which are out of your own control. Take a breath, take a step and keep going. Life is full of surprises, some pleasant, others not so pleasant. That is what makes life so interesting.

Whatever it is that you do – expect change and plan to grow as it happens. The power is in your hands – are you ready?