Just Because You Do It Well Doesn’t Mean You Have To Do It

It Takes Work To Get Good At Things

The other day I wrote about estimating on my other blog. Estimating is the kind of skill that really improves quickly based on the number of mistakes you make – which isn’t like many other things.

Imagine being a trapeze artist – making mistakes won’t make you better. It might make you injured. What about a professional driver. Mistakes there can kill you. Some jobs don’t allow for mistakes (like Chris Rock’s joke about pilots).

Estimating, on the other hand, only gets better with more exposure. The more things you see and experience, the better you get.

So if you get good at estimating, it’s because you’ve seen a lot. You’ve experienced a lot. And now you are the go-to person for estimating things. Because people know you’ll be accurate and will know what to look for to mitigate risks in the effort.

Should You Do All The Things You’re Good At?

Most people who become experts at something – at least something that is hard to get good at – become known for their expertise. They become the go-to person for that topic. Let’s say you’ve become known for something. You’ve developed expertise.

Just Because You Do It Well Doesn’t Mean You Have To Do It Click To Tweet

Should you become the go-to person that does the work? Because you’re the best at it?

Most of us would start with a default of “yes.”

But let’s think about that for a quick second, by asking another question.

How did you get good at it?

Most likely, you had the right turns at bat. To get good at anything, you need the opportunity to practice. What that means is you need the opportunity to do it when you’re not good at it.

So we come back to the earlier question.

If you’re great at something, does that mean you should do it?

I think my answer is no.

We Need to Build the Capacity to Fail at Things

If you’re an expert (or just really good) at something, you likely can tell the difference between the work that has the greatest risk and the work that could fail without killing things.

So what if you took the low risk items and offered them as an opportunity for someone else to learn. Over time they’ll develop competencies that they wouldn’t have without the opportunity.

But it also means they might fail.

And that brings me to my final point – we know how much failure helped us get good at things.

So why are we so committed to ensuring that other people don’t experience failure?