Thoughts & Observations

When You Don’t Know How

There are a lot of things that I postponed doing in life because I didn’t know how. One of the biggest was going out on my own and starting my own business. I thought all of the people who had opened their own businesses or who had launched their own websites had some magic understanding or ability that I didn’t.

I was having a conversation with my 17 year-old co-conspirator in crazy projects, Emily-Anne, the other night and we were talking about the issue of not knowing how. We pondered whether we could create something that answered the question of “how” for potential entrepreneurs (especially kids) so that they wouldn’t stall like I did.

As we talked, there was something that wasn’t quite feeling right about our plans. Emily-Anne made the observation that there really wasn’t a way to define how, at least not in the recipe-like way that people are often craving. Yes, we could tell someone how to build a website or get their company on Facebook, but we couldn’t tell them how to BE Facebook.

When Facebook was being built, Mark Zuckerburg wasn’t even sure what he was building. He had some of the basic skills, but he certainly didn’t have a road map for how.

In fact, when it comes to launching new companies, not having a recipe is what actually creates the magic. It’s what ends up making them stand out.

I’ve been seeing a few mainstream shoe companies mimicking Tom’s Shoes, even upping the ante by giving away two pairs of shoes for every pair you buy. But there is no magic in that. It’s the same old recipe.

Saying you don’t know how is convenient way to avoid doing something.

There are lots of people who came before you who didn’t know how either, but they moved forward anyway.

You will create the how yourself, but only if you start moving.

2 thoughts on “When You Don’t Know How

  1. I’m currently right there. I just accepted a new job and was convinced I must have oversold myself in my interview and I was in way over my head. And I probably am a bit, but luckily they don’t expect me to know the answer to every question right now. I know some stuff, I’ll learn more, and one day I will know it all (or most anyway). You just have to jump in!

    • jessicahlawrence

      Absolutely. It’s sometimes easy to get almost paralyzed by this feeling of “what if they find out? what if they discover I don’t know everything?” But the truth is that no one knows everything and almost everyone walks around with that feeling at some point or another. It’s kind of like we’re all in a secret pact to never let it slip quite how unsure we are at times.

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