Last week, I asked what makes you better. As someone who believes in continuous learning, this is something I think about a lot.

I wrote about two communities that challenge me: the National Speakers Association and a conference I attended last July.

But more than the conferences, it was the people that truly inspired me. One such person was the compelling Dr. Delatorro McNeal. He gave a mainstage talk and poured out his heart and energy. He challenged the audience to do something, then asked them to do it again, and then one more time asking could they do it better?

I watched the audience try harder with each request, getting more creative about how to accomplish the task. Then he said what has stuck with me months later.

The first time you try anything, it is never your best.”

So often people are scared to try something for the first time. My son actually said to me, “I don’t like being bad at things.”

If we are afraid to be bad, we won’t try and certainly won’t get better. I reminded him of the first time he tried fencing and now he is nationally rated. (You can imagine my teenager’s reaction to me making a very good point!)

So, take the pressure off yourself. Embrace the suck and expect that you are not going to be great at it the first time. It’s okay that it is not going to be your best. The likelihood is you are only going to get better.

I am living proof. The first time I spoke for the Society for Information Management (SIM) at their national conference was back in 2016. I thought it went great! I got good feedback and continued to book more talks with individual chapters.

Me as the keynote speaker at the 2016 SIM National Convention

A few years later I was asked to keynote the national SIM Women event. At the end of my presentation I was approached by someone who attended both national events. She simply said, “You have grown so much.” I thought to myself, I’m still four foot ten, I haven’t grown at all. I really didn’t know what she meant, but it stuck with me. I actually had to ask someone what they thought she meant.

Over five years later, I still remember that moment. It took me a while to realize what she was saying was… I got better. I grew my skills, I grew my impact.

I think that was Delatorro’s point; we don’t get better if we’re not trying. It’s okay to not be great your first time out of the gate or even the second, but I bet you the second try, you’ve gotten a little bit better. With each try you get a little bit better, and you learn a little something.

There are so many sayings about trying that we have all heard.

  • “If first you don’t succeed try, try again”,
  • “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
  • “Try and fail, but never fail to try!”

It is a shift in mindset. Think about taking on a new job or responsibility in your job? Believe you can figure it out and learn.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to have already done it just to say you know how. (FYI… Women we tend to be more guilty of this then the men.)

Get out of that mindset and know and believe you can grow into it. I believe you can do it. You can figure it out. My motto… “Say yes, then figure out how.”