I still remember the first moment that I stood at the
end of the diving board. The board seemed like it was at least half a mile above
the water. I was eight years old and I was scared.
“Don’t stand there all day!” The coach was yelling at me, telling me that
there were others waiting to dive. I started regretting my decision to try.
I finally dove off the board, pretty much the way I was taught and entered
the water more or less like a diver. When I came up I felt great.
“Swim out of the way!” I was holding up traffic again, so I swam to the edge
of the pool, feeling good about my first dive and thinking about what I would do
differently next time.
Most of the things you will learn to do as a boss are like learning to dive.
Books and videos and exercises can help prepare you. You can get coaching and
that helps. But there always comes that moment when you’re at the end of the
board, all alone.
You have to dive. It won’t be perfect, especially the first time, but you
simply can’t learn to dive without actually diving. The same is true for many of
the things you have to do as a boss like talking to a team member about
performance or giving a speech.
If you get feedback and coaching and you keep trying, you will get better.
But before that happens you have to stand on the board with sweaty palms and a
knot in your stomach. And dive.
Boss’s Bottom Line
You won’t learn all the things a great boss must do without doing them,
fearfully and awkwardly at first, and better and better with practice and