Welcome to the new semi-secret Parenthetical Me wherein I admit all the awesome and ugly of working as a middle-manager in a big corporation. I’m really looking forward to being able to admit to all sorts of things heretofore kept secret because despite my bitching, I like my job and want to keep it.
So, this morning’s awesome: I hate Excel. Nothing can make me feel more stupid than dealing with effing Excel, and nothing puts me in a bad mood more quickly than feeling stupid.
I spent the bulk of my early career as a report writer, in fact, decided to move to IT from Chemical Engineering because of a report-writing project at my part-time job in college. Though I’m very, very rusty, I still think like a report writer… so I hate Excel. But like many other really big companies, mine does a lot of stuff in Excel that really should be managed other ways.
After a week of trying to find the time and patience to figure out the stupidly simple thing I wanted to do, I cried uncle and asked a new friend for help… and now I’m feeling incredibly stupid.
Here’s the thing: the higher I move in management, the more time I spend reminding myself that it’s okay to feel stupid. Really. There are few things I hate more than not knowing, but the only way to get to knowing is to ask. Asking is so uncomfortable when I become someone’s manager because I really, really don’t want them to think I’m an idiot.
But I’ve been through this a whole lot in my career, so I have a coping strategy: I tell myself that ignorance is okay for a specific period of time. Everyone has to learn, even super fantastic CEO’s at the top of their game who change businesses, and you can only learn by asking. I have a new team working for me which means for at least 30 days, I have to make myself ask the dumb questions or else I’ll be worse than an ignorant boss, I’ll be a stupid one.
I’m still really embarrassed about asking my new friend for Excel guidance. I remind myself that it feels good to be on the other end of the ask, nice to be able to offer someone a little bit of my expertise, but still… not my favorite feeling.
Oh, well. How do you handle not knowing?