How to Accept a Challenge that Buckles Your Knees

Nudges normally produce acceptable growth. But some growth-opportunities require leaps.

Knee buckling opportunities:

One day a door of opportunity will open for you. You sweat thinking about it. Your knees buckle.

Your boss may ask you to step into a new role. Or you’ll apply for a stretch-position and they’ll actually hire you.

5 practices:

#1. Connect.

You might feel like proving you can do it on your own. It’s better to acknowledge the stretch. Don’t face the challenge alone.

Connect with a mentor inside your organization, not the person you report to.

Build a team of mentors and coaches outside your organization.

If you face a knee-buckling opportunity, run, don’t walk, to people who support and expand you.

#2. Embrace humble openness.

Open your heart and mind to new approaches.

New challenges require new skills and strategies. Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here won’t get you there.”

Growth includes trying untested behaviors. Listen to coaches, advisers, and mentors when they suggest behaviors you haven’t tried.

Open hearts grow. Closed hearts shrink.

#3. Negotiate your relationship with your boss.

  1. Explore frequency of one-on-ones.
  2. Describe the type of conversations that most help.
  3. Clarify success. What is different if you succeed?
  4. Establish a timeline with milestones.

#4. Seek feedback like a leader.

  1. Avoid saying, “How am I doing?” Broad questions make you seem needy.
  2. Declare an intention and seek specific feedback.
    • I’m working to build positive energy on the team. (Intention)
    • What do you see me doing that builds team energy? (Feedback)
    • What do you see me doing that drains team energy? (Feedback)
    • How might I better build team energy? Listen for behaviors. (Advice)

#5. Be yourself.

  1. Remember that you earned this opportunity even if you feel like a faker.
  2. Stay connected to your values, strengths, and career goals.
  3. Reflect on your performance daily.

How might leaders face knee buckling opportunities?