You know more than you think.

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Have you ever met someone who has an answer for everything? At first you trust them and maybe even give them god-like powers, only to later realize that knowing everything isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, sometimes not having all the answers can give you the upper hand because it makes you pause to reflect, or consider if you’re even asking the right questions of working to solve the right problem.

On the other side of the spectrum from spectrum of the know-it-all, lies another kind of person who is incredibly talented, curious, inquisitive, yet may be too quick to not want to take on an opportunity because they don’t already have the skills and experience to fulfil one of the requirements.

In this case, the thing keeping you from this opportunity is not that it’s something you can’t figure out, it’s the fact that it makes you feel like an imposter. When you encounter things that scare you it’s often a good indicator that you’re pushing yourself professionally. It doesn’t always feel good, but it really is a good thing. And unfortunately, there are people out there far less qualified and talented than you who don’t feel like an imposter, and will take the job if you don’t. (And they won’t do work to the same quality as you.)

When we only see the work we do, it’s easy to assume that everyone else is doing something similar, particularly if from the outside it looks like they’ve hit a certain level of “success.” However, one of the most eye opening aspects of running my business is getting a peek inside the work of others across industries (and I’m not even talking about my clients here). Much of it is very impressive, but then sometimes you encounter something that makes you go, “really!?!?”. It’s often not until you see something underwhelming by someone else that you fully start to comprehend what it is you bring to your work. It’s all the stuff you completely take for granted.

Society tends to teach us that “bigger is better” or that things are supposed to be done a certain way. When you name drop big companies people are more likely to be impressed. But then I read this article on LinkedIn about the rise of the small [research] agency. While the article has market research as the focus, the benefits it discusses—commitment, flexibility, focus, customized, vendor agnostic, and cost—can apply to many industries working on a smaller scale.

The article talks about small agencies as 1-50 people. More and more I see the power of one as the biggest benefit. No, I may not know everything going into a project, but I’m far more likely to take the time to figure it out than someone lost in the sea of a giant company. I take ownership of the work I do. I take it on not because it’s easy work, but because it’s a challenge. Because that’s the best way to learn, grow, and push ourselves forward. It’s also how we end up knowing more than we give ourselves credit for.

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