Be A Zero

Have you ever been to space?
I have.
Okay, that’s a lie.

Even though I haven’t been to space, I have learned a lot from astronauts. Well okay, that’s a lie. I learned one very important thing from one super-cool Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

In his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Hadfield said that whe4YahBXk68P-2never you’re starting a new job, “be a zero.” I’m paraphrasing here, but his advice is to try not to contribute much until you have your head around what the team is trying to accomplish. There is a lot of wisdom here. I am currently imbibing this wisdom with every pore while I navigate space (a.k.a. my new job).

Picture this:
You’re in a new environment. Maybe they gave you a fancy office. You’re used to being busy. You know the answer when you’re asked a question. You’re confident when you make decisions and take on projects. You get tons of positive feedback. Over the years your head has grown as big as an astronaut bubble head. You go into a new gig thinking you’re some kind of visionary spacewalker, but guess what? You’re SOOOOO not. Take a breather. It’s going to take a year before you can even think about super-spacewalker status again.

My advice? Listen to your new team. Don’t try to contribute too much at meetings. LISTEN! Did I say that again? It’s because you weren’t listening. This in itself is one of the most difficult yet most useful strategies. Ask a zillion questions. Get your head around the shared vision and get a sense of what the team is trying to accomplish. Then and only then, humbly make your contributions from a place of understanding. 😉

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