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Last week I was sick. Although, I hate being sick it does have a few advantages. Yes, I fell behind in my work. But, on the upside I got to watch a bunch of movies while recuperating on the sofa including one of my favorites The Italian Job.
If you’ve somehow managed to miss this highly entertaining, caper movie it’s a ton of fun. But what particularly caught my attention this time was one of the opening scenes where an older thief, John Bridger, asks his protégé, Charlie Croker, how he’s feeling about an upcoming job. It’s the first time that Charlie will be running the crew who are about to steal several million dollars worth of gold bricks.
Charlie says he’s fine. The rest of the conversation goes like this:
Bridger: Fine? You know what “fine” stands for don’t you?
Croker: Yeah, unfortunately.
Bridger: Freaked out . . .
Croker: Insecure . . .
Bridger: Neurotic . . .
Croker: And Emotional.
Wow. That brief conversation made me think. I know I’ve been guilty of saying I’m fine when what I really mean is that I’m F.I.N.E. What about you?
Although, the perfunctory “I’m fine” is an acceptable response for the barista at Starbuck’s who asks how you’re doing, in many cases people are looking for an honest answer particularly when it comes to family, friends and colleagues.
While growth only comes from stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s important to be honest about your abilities especially with yourself. If you’re overwhelmed by a project don’t tell people you’re fine – let them know you’re struggling. If you don’t understand what your boss expects – ask her. If you’re not going to have the client presentation completed on time – let your team or your boss know well in advance.
It’s worse to let people think that everything is going well and on schedule when it’s not, than it is to say you’re having trouble. Look at it from the other side. Generally, people are much happier to jump in and help if you don’t wait until the eleventh hour. Certainly, no one wants to work all weekend when it could have been avoided. And if you wait too long there’s a chance it may be too late.
This doesn’t mean to avoid new challenges or passing on opportunities when they arise. That’s the only way to grow. Just evaluate what you’re diving into before you jump. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you’re confused ask for clarification. But, do some research in advance so you’ll be asking intelligent questions. If you find yourself falling behind on a project, do your level best to catch up. If that means extra hours so be it. But, if you know things are becoming out of control ask for help. Don’t wait until the day before the presentation to tell your boss there’s a problem.
Standing on your own is admirable. But, there’s no shame in getting a little help along the way. Next time you’re feeling F.I.N.E. get some help. It’s easier to recover after you stumble than it is to get up after you fall.