When I was a little girl, I suffered from extreme fear of heights and anxiety. So much so, that I wouldn’t even step off the curb! Instead, I would sit down near the curb, scoot to the street, stand up, and then cross. I must have looked ridiculous to anyone watching!
Fortunately, I outgrew this fear, but my family still uses the phrase “step off the curb” when they know I have to do something outside of my comfort zone. It’s a terrific feeling though, once I take that first step, overcome my fear, and achieve what I set out to do.
As a project manager, I’ve sometimes had to help clients “step off the curb.” One project in particular sticks out in my mind… implementing a retail certification program in Australia. My clients in the U.S. preferred using a U.S. facilitator who would travel back and forth to Australia to conduct training and certification inspections. However, I was concerned that an outsider might not be accepted as readily as someone who lived and worked in Australia. Nor would a U.S. facilitator be as available to provide consultative advice and onsite assistance as the program was rolled out.
But my clients wondered how we would train an Australian facilitator since we were half way around the globe. Good question! How could I move them to step off that curb? After careful consideration, I recommended bringing the Australian facilitator to the states to shadow a team of existing facilitators, then traveling to Australia myself to work directly with the facilitator and oversee the pilot.
Although this option was a little more costly at the front-end of the project, I was convinced this investment would more than pay for itself down the line. My clients took that step, and we were right! Not only did the Australian facilitator gain valuable contacts in the U.S., he also connected well with his participants by being “one of them.” And because I was present at the pilot and familiar with the program content, I was available to manage any course correction as needed. My clients, the facilitator, and the participants were quite pleased with the pilot results. And my clients continued to be thrilled in the months and years that followed.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” So the next time you’re presented with a challenging project or deadline, just step off the curb…or help someone else to move forward. Momentum will handle the rest.