Focus on what is the same, not what’s different.

When we tackle a new task or reach out to learn something new, we immediately become hyper focused on what we don't know or what we can't do in the task.  This is losing perspective of the bigger picture.

I have been a student and a teacher all of my life, in the early years we focus on building on our skills across a whole range of challenges, but as we get older, we start to focus on this or that and are quick to dismiss what we believe we can or can't do based on our self perception.  I think we do this because we fall into the trap of looking at what's different rather than what is the same.

Coaching people in the next step of their career, I've lost count of the number of times people have turned away from an opportunity because they make quick assumptions based on what they can't do. They quickly dismiss their previous learning and their transferable skills, focusing on what different and whereby turning their backs on a learning opportunity.

If you think about it, as you grow and develop, most of the things you learn are transferable skills, you people skills, office skills, leadership and management skills, presentation skills and the list goes on.  Of course, there is a caveat here, there are some specialist skills where specific technical skills are required, but even these are not insurmountable.  I remember coaching a young lady who was a bogger operator, purely to build up enough financial security to send herself to medical school to become a doctor.

If you are looking at any new skill, role or opportunity, the first question you should ask yourself is "what is the same" and start on that baseline to make the decision to proceed.  When I took up snowboarding at the ripe old age of 55, l I turned to the many years I spent skateboarding around the suburbs of Perth.  I try and make it a habit now, when I presented with some thing new and different, I look at what I already know, and sometimes that makes up a substantial part of the whole picture.  It make the challenge a lot less daunting and a lot more achievable.

So next time you say to yourself "I couldn't ever do that" stop and think to yourself "what of this challenge do I already know, what can I build on, and what exactly is the real current gap"  I'm sure you'll see that the gap is nowhere a wide as you initially thought it was.

Look for what is the same and build on your skills and knowledge, don't reject things because you think they are too far away from your state, role, position, training.  In this way you are opening yourself up for many more opportunities and fun challenges, things are not all as different as you might believe.

I think the world would be a much better place if we were focusing on what we can all agree on rather than what is different.