An exceptional man sat down in my office yesterday and relayed that, in nearly every promotion he’d earned, he hadn’t felt ready for it. He felt the promotions came too soon and he lacked the skill and experience for the role…all of this when he had just figured out the current job!
We talked for a few moments and (reflecting this morning) I’m not sure I gave clear advice.
Here’s what I should have said.
Trust your headlights.
Before I put on E-5 (the military promotion that allows you to supervise others), a supervisor sat down with me and told me the headlight story. He advised promotions were like driving at night. You can’t see farther than your lights, but you develop trust that the road will be there. You can increase the range of your lights through education, training, and experience, but you must ultimately trust that the road will be there. You can fill the car with coaches and mentors, but in the end the driving and the road is yours.
The road will be there. Turn on your lights, fill the seats appropriately, and drive on.