How Do You Know When You’re Ready To Lead?

How Do You Know When You’re Ready To Lead?

4 min read

Take the Helm

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I had been at my previous parks and rec position for more than a decade when I landed a great job in central Ohio for a Gold Medal-winning agency, with more responsibility and many more employees to lead. It was tough saying goodbye. The position and the people had been good to me. Before the move, I kept asking myself, “How do I know if I’m ready?” At the going-away party, my old boss put both hands on my shoulders, looked at me, and said just two words. “You’re ready.” That was his goodbye present. I still think about those words, 15 years later. We are both different people now—he is retired, and I have gone from a bachelor to a married man with a now-fourth grader.

The question of being ready is relevant for any change, challenge, or endeavor. Starting a new job. Completing boot camp. Running a marathon. Being a parent. You might succeed, you might fail. Just because you try doesn’t mean you will win. Life is not like the sports leagues where people complain about every child getting a participation trophy. So why try at all? 

Leadership And Anxiety

If there is one thing I have learned in the last year, it’s that anticipation is not reality. Reality can be worse, but for me anticipation revolves around worst-case scenarios. Entrepreneur Seth Godin put it best: “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. Worry is not preparation. Anxiety doesn't make you better.” Wondering if you will be ready is not training to be ready.