I’ve never known a student editor who felt ready to become editor-in-chief. Not one. In almost two decades of working with student editors across the nation, I’ve never met a single editor who said, “I’m so ready for the EIC gig.”
Instead I’ve heard students say, “I’m scared,” “I don’t think I know enough” and “I don’t know if I can do it.”
My response is always the same, “If you knew everything you needed to know to be EIC, you already would have graduated and be headed to your first job. You learn through the process.”
Marie Forleo wrote about starting before you’re ready in her book, Everything Is Figureoutable.
“You never feel ready to do the important things you’re meant to do.”
I found myself wishing every student editor out there could read those words because they’re so true.
When you’re making a decision that scares you, Forleo says to ask yourself: “In 10 years, will I regret not doing this?”
In my life, the answer has almost always been “yes.” Forleo wrote:
“All progress begins with a brave decision.”
I couldn’t agree more. And I am grateful for all of those student editors who said “yes,” even though they weren’t sure they were ready. For those in the future, here are three ways Forleo wrote to start before you’re ready:
1. Beware of procrastination disguised as “research and planning”
This is my favorite method of avoidance when I don’t feel ready for something, but extensive research and planning are just a way to keep procrastinating.
You don’t need to know every step or map out an exact plan before you begin, Forleo wrote. She’s correct. You will learn as you go. Also, even if you did map out an exact plan, it’s likely to change as you grow and know more.
Instead of getting paralyzed in the information gathering stage, Forleo wrote that we should research just enough to know what the next action we need to take is, then do that thing.
2. Get skin in the game
We don’t like to lose. The concept of loss aversion tells us that we prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.
To really commit to starting before we’re ready, we need to find a way to be externally accountable by putting time, money or ego on the line, Forleo wrote. We have to create real-world consequences if we don’t keep moving, she wrote.
Think about it. What do you lose if you don’t do the thing you want to do or are being asked to do?
3. Value growth and learning over comfort and certainty
The editor-in-chief label says “This student is the best of the best.” It doesn’t say “This student is perfect and knows everything.”
The growth and learning that happens in that position (and many others), is much more important than comfort.
Most of us spend too much time in our comfort zone, where we feel safe and things are familiar, Forleo wrote. But everything we dream of achieving is in our growth zone, she wrote.
You will feel vulnerable and insecure in your growth zone, but you have to temporarily let go of your need for comfort and security to value growth and learning above all else, Forleo wrote.
The growth zone is where you’ll gain new skills and capabilities. It’s where you acquire strength and expertise, and produce new results, Forleo wrote.
Whether it’s a decision about becoming EIC or another big decision in your life, don’t let the fear of not being ready control your outcome. Push forward to learn and grow. Also, understand that you likely won’t feel ready for the next step either. As the saying goes, life happens outside of your comfort zone.