Winging It

By Michelle Mclean

I’ve been mulling over some ideas for a new, personal project. My intuition feels really good about it, I’m excited in a way that I’ve not been for a while and I have an abundance of ideas. I have so many ideas in fact, that I am a bit overwhelmed and not actually executing anything or coming up with a coherent plan of attack. I’m a coach and a project manager so I shouldn’t be finding this so difficult. But…here we are!

It’s a bit like when I put on Netflix, on an unexpected free night. There’s so much choice and so many recommendations from friends, that I can spend a lot of time scrolling and searching, unable to settle on one thing I’m satisfied with. Before I know it, it’s late and I’m too tired to watch anything at all.

I know there is a bit of analysis paralysis going on – where over thinking can cause action to cease. My bigger problem though, is that I’ve not done something like this project before and although I have a what I don’t yet have a how.

Experience has taught me not to let a lack of knowledge stop me from doing something. Some of the most fun, most rewarding and most satisfying things I’ve done have come from trying something new. But despite knowing that, not yet having a how has been blocking from me from getting started. Then I came across this quote…


Not knowing what one is doing is no prohibition to doing it. We all grope ahead.

Anne Carson – poet, essayist and Professor of Classics.

It’s common to feel the weight of the expectation, self imposed or otherwise, for perfection. Having the perfect conditions and making perfect progress towards a perfect outcome. Perhaps it is more realistic to expect uncertainty and an element of blindly finding a way.

There is a simple truth in Carson’s words. Few of us are born experts, aren’t we all just winging it (in jobs, projects and life) until our competency and confidence builds? How can we come to know what we are doing, without first attempting to do it? The learning that comes from having a go at something, is what makes us better at it.

I have written the Carson quote on the whiteboard above my desk, as a reminder to ‘grope ahead’. As for my project, I’ve finally made a start and I’ll be winging it until I’ve learned how to fly.

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