Working Out Loud: Sometimes Nobody Knows

Working Out Loud surfaces the hard, the difficult and the uncertainty of work. The value it delivers begins with what we usually hide. Transparently sharing work in progress reduces the stress of uncertainty.

When you see the work around you in the form of polished artefacts, the performance of others can be intimidating.  The glossy output gives no signal of how hard it was to put together, how much effort was involved or even the doubts and uncertainties of the creator. We can feel like others are so much more talented and accomplished because they don’t share our doubts and uncertainties about work.

This morning on the radio a musician, Emma Louise, was telling the story that her big surprise when she meets other musicians to talk about work is the discovery that everybody is uncertain about what they are doing. She described the relief in knowing she was not alone in her doubts.

This is not just a challenge for creative arts. In many workplaces one of the commonest forms of stress is the pressure to hide one’s own doubts and uncertainties about work.  Nobody else is sharing any doubt so your own feels wrong.  Hidden behind all the artefacts is a whole lot of confusion.

Working Out Loud brings work in progress out into the open.  While it will raise anxiety at first to share one’s shortcomings, doubts and concerns, my experience is that it is exactly like the conversation that Emma Louise describes.  Others emboldened by openness and vulnerability will admit their own doubts and concerns. Soon we find out that those we most admire and are most intimidated by have a little part of their work where they are just ‘making it up as they go along’.  Collaborating together to support one another, to share skills and to close gaps is a powerful way to tighten a team and reduce the intimidating barrier of perception.

If you are concerned to admit that you don’t know the answer through working out loud, remember sometimes nobody knows. You may just have to find the answer together.

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