This year has been quite a ride when it comes to new learning.
Much of it has absolutely nothing to do with communities or corporate Learning and Development. It’s all personal stuff building new skills and capabilities in my work and daily tasks.
In my role as Community Manager, I’m also helping out in various aspects of marketing.
Now, I’ve never been a marketer nor have I worked in marketing teams and as such, it’s as if I’ve jumped into the deep end trying to learn all this stuff that may come naturally to some especially those involved with building websites, member sites, landing pages and so forth. It’s not about marketing theory which I did in an MBA many years ago where it was about the 4Ps. This time it’s actually building pages, campaigns, automations and sites.
I have no idea if the 4Ps hold true anymore. What I do know is that marketing is now being able to tell a story, it’s also about having some skills around building some kind of ‘marketing engine’ to keep your story front of mind to others (hopefully new customers).
It’s these ‘engines’ which have been my learning challenges and teaching something about myself in the process.
I have to admit that many times, I feel out of my depth when it comes to these.
Because my background has always been dealing with conceptual and not the detail. I am someone who is able to come up with the strategy or the idea and then make a high level plan for how the sections work together but get me to drill down into the deeper, nitty gitty transactional day-to-day steps and tasks that need to occur, I get utterly lost. I simply don’t have the patience or the mindset for it.
As a result, I sometimes “feel” my brain trying to extricate itself from the “detail” and get sucked back up again to the “helicopter view”. It’s a constant battle because when I’m in the details – that’s not where my natural flow lies which means my brain is constantly working harder to learn, understand and apply. I find it exhausting.
However learning the marketing engine software and also Microsoft’s Power Automate has landed me squarely into that heavy area that requires this type of thinking that is not natural to me. It’s the reason why I think I may be procrastinating learning the other Power Platform products such as Power Apps and Power BI because these products are so very different to the main line of work – and the type of thinking – that I’ve been doing over 25 years.
However, if there’s one thing I learned this year learning a language is that, I have to keep reminding myself that learning something new is all about discomfort. The feelings I’m getting feeling “lost in the weeds” is exactly the same feeling of loss, vulnerability and anxiety that comes with learning something where you are out of your depth. This is no different.
I’m mindful that I keep saying to colleagues, “I’m no marketer….” as a means of me explaining my lack of experience and my lack of speed towards a solution they’re asking for because I tend to overthink things to the point where I end up confusing myself. I get myself into a tizzy because I know the solution cannot be THAT difficult but by my own mind, I make it harder than it needs to be. I’m overthinking the detail which then results in paralysis by analysis.
While I prefer to work on a more middle ground – that middle space between conceptual and transactional, I’m finding that the marketing work is now veering towards the latter where I have to devise systems to map out exactly what happens from Point A to Point B to Point C and then, shock horror, add IF/THEN statements at each point to create parallel branches of decisions and actions.
And you know what?
I STRUGGLE WITH THIS! (Because I’ve never had to think this way working in HR and L&D).
So I think I’ve identified my nemesis here and that is drilling down into process and procedures. I watched Jon Levesque recently (video below) map out a process with a friend on a white board and then go about building a workflow process in Power Automate and I thought to myself, “Crap, I can’t do what he did – as in, the way they think out a process!”
My type of thinking just doesn’t translate to how these two blokes think – procedurally. That’s my skill gap and that’s why I’m finding Power Automate pretty hard to learn in its entirety (especially those Expressions and dynamic content).
You see, if I did what they did, I’d start to question a lot of things.
“Why do we do it this way?”
“What if we do it another way?”
“How do we want it to work?”
“What relies on our tasks/processes working this way – who else does it impact?”
“What if someone or something is introduced tomorrow that changes this process?”
“Can we do it in an easier way?”
“OMG. Are you telling me that if I create a process on this that I’d be stuck with using this process forever??” (this is stuff of my worst nightmares because I do things differently every time).
I just simply wouldn’t be able to design a process from A>>>>B. Instead, I would pontificate on possibilities, not IF/THENs but WHAT IFS and HOW ABOUTS.
Alas, I need to have this skill though and I’ve come to the realisation that I need to have people who have this particular skill to help me out here. For me to be able to say, “I accept that this is going to take a little bit longer for me” because it doesn’t come naturally to me – and frankly, that’s scary because we end up being slower or come across as indecisive or not knowing what we’re doing. Imposter syndrome sets in or you start to become hard on yourself for not picking up the concepts as easier as others seem to be doing.
In our daily work, I know that there are many people who may be feeling this way of late with constant change faced in their workplaces. It’s a constant battle to keep within your comfort zone – a place where you find it easier to function from – and where your expertise lies. However when work, systems, roles, tasks, jobs and the environment is changing around you, it’s natural to feel “lost” as I do at times – as if you cannot keep up, that you’re missing pieces of an important jigsaw puzzle; that you’re not as fast or smart or adept as others around you. In those situations, don’t beat yourself up. Accept that you’ll be feeling like this from now on and the best thing is to accept these feelings and at least keep an open mind and seek help when you need it. You don’t need to become an expert in this new thing that you’re trying, just give it a go and celebrate the little wins.
Learning is all about getting out of your comfort zone but it need not break your spirit.