William Liao

January 27, 2022

figuring it out

Whether you revel in the process of figuring things out or are intimidated by it, here are some operating principles that will help facilitate the process. 

Ask for help

According to Dr. Wayne Baker, Professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, most people are willing to help, but most people don’t ask for what they need out of fear that no one can help or that asking will make them look weak. 

If you’re like me and find asking for help to be an intimidating act at times, take heart in the fact that most people are actually generous and willing to help. 

Asking for help isn’t a weakness; it’s about being resourceful and effective. 

Growing with the help of others also sets you up to be able to pay it forward by helping others, too. 

Most amazing feats aren’t achieved by the herculean feats of an individual, but rather by a community of helping hands. 

Be ready to fail and learn (over and over again)

Procter & Gamble confers an annual Heroic Failure Award to whichever team experiences the greatest failure during the year. 

Though a cute gesture on the surface, this award is part of a deliberate effort to remove the stigma of failing, so its employees feel like they have permission to fail and learn quickly. 

To be effective is to know what doesn’t work; give yourself permission to fail. 

Always be learning

Seek ideas from multiple disciplines, read voraciously, and remain humbled by how much you don’t know. 

The quickest way to stunt progress is to presume you know more than you actually do. 

Fall in love with the problem

Seek to understand the priorities, problems, and pain points of the people you serve.

If you focus the majority of your attention and energy on working to alleviate these problems — almost everything else that matters will fall into place.