Don’t Say You’re Fine When You’re F.I.N.E.

Stop saying everything's OK when you're overwhelmed. There's no shame in asking for help when you need it.

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The best part about being sick is having the rare opportunity to lounge on the sofa and watch movies all day. The highlight of last month’s sinus infection was catching The Italian Job. It’s a great caper movie. One of the best. Ever.  

If you’ve somehow managed to miss this highly entertaining movie it’s a ton of fun. Kind of a cross between The Sting and Ocean’s 11. And, although, I’m not a thief and you probably aren’t either, the movie has a great career lesson for us all.  

In one of the opening scenes the older, more experienced thief, John Bridger, asks his protégé, Charlie Croker, how he’s feeling about an upcoming job. It’s the first time that Charlie will be running the crew who are about to steal several million dollars’ worth of gold bricks.

Charlie says he’s fine. The rest of the conversation goes like this:

Bridger: Fine? You know what “fine” stands for don’t you?
Croker: Yeah, unfortunately.
Bridger: Freaked out . . .
Croker: Insecure . . .
Bridger: Neurotic . . .
Croker: And Emotional.

Wow. I know I’ve been guilty of saying I’m fine when what I really mean is that I’m F.I.N.E.

What about you?

Although, the perfunctory “I’m fine” is an acceptable response for the Starbuck’s barista who asks how you’re doing, it’s not necessarily the right answer when responding to family, friends and colleagues.

While growth only comes from stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s important to be honest about your abilities especially with yourself.

If you’re completely overwhelmed by a project don’t tell people you’re fine. If you don’t understand what your boss expects ask her. If you’re not going to have the client presentation completed on time let your team or your boss know well in advance.

No one likes to say they are in trouble. But, it’s much worse to let people believe that your project will be done on schedule when it won’t than it is to ask for help.

Consider the situation from their side. Would you rather step in to help someone complete a project two weeks before it’s due or be forced to cancel dinner with friends to save them at eleventh hour?

I don’t know anyone who wants to work all weekend to meet someone else’s deadline. Particularly when it could have been avoided.  

There’s no way to grow in your career unless you take on new challenges and accept opportunities when they are offered. Just evaluate what you’re diving into before you jump. Will you have time to get up to speed on something you’re not familiar with? Do you have colleagues you can ask for guidance?

Once you accept don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you’re confused or unsure ask for clarification. But, do some research first so  you’ll be asking intelligent questions.

If you find yourself falling behind on a project, do your absolute best to catch up. If that means working extra hours, even over the weekend, so be it. But if it reaches the point where you know things are getting out of control ask for help. Don’t wait until the day before a presentation to tell your boss there’s a problem.

Getting recognition for a project, a presentation, a pitch, etc. that you weren’t sure you could even do in the fist place is awesome. But, there’s no shame in asking for and getting a little assistance along the way.  

The next time you’re feeling F.I.N.E. don’t tell people you’re fine. It’s easier for you, and everyone else, to regroup after a stumble than it is to get back up after a fall.

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