HGTV Teaches Me Experience Doesn’t Matter. Reality Has Taught Me it Does

One of the first things you do when you purchase your first house is get cable. The next is to get addicted to HGTV. I didn’t even stand a chance; I was hooked within the first 30 minutes. Within hours, even though my fiancée and I were lucky enough to get a house with minimal repairs, I decided we needed to knock down walls, create a breakfast bar, and make sure there were French Doors leading to somewhere.

It seemed so easy. If these professionals could turn around an entire house in 30 days and make it look flawless, I could do the same thing to one room in a week.

Learning on the job

Luckily, my fiancée is much smarter than I am. She decided we should take it slow and start with small projects. Turns out the hours of “training” I received from HGTV didn’t actually prepare me. To put it nicely, the results weren’t pretty. Not only did I expect results that were professional quality, but I expected the projects to get done in a quick timeframe and without the proper tools or training.

Needless to say, I was frustrated. I’m a smart guy. I usually figure things out and everything looked so easy on TV. But as I found out, watching someone else do something does not prepare you to do it yourself. With that said, I’m still determined to knock down a wall. My fiancée has forbid it, but she is going to come home one day and it’ll just be gone.. quickly followed by me sleeping on the couch.

Home Repairs and Leadership: Two peas in the same pod

The real reason I bring this up is because while I’m going through the growing pains of learning how to do home repairs, I’m doing the same thing as a first time manager.

I have been extremely fortunate to work for, and work with, some amazing leaders and managers. I also learned much about best practices from my MBA program. Together, I was armed with all the skills and knowledge to succeed. And while I truly believe that the past 1.5 years has been successful, it has been anything but easy.

This is not an indictment of the people I lead or work with. They are some of the most passionate and dedicated professionals I have been around. I am truly honored to lead them, and because of them, I am constantly working to raise my game and set them up for success.

But, like my home projects, the ability to be good at something I have never done before takes time. Training and understanding best practices are a great start and the building blocks to being successful, but experience trumps all.

Things like giving feedback, having tough conversations, delegating, and setting goals and strategies are suddenly my responsibility. These are things I’ve studied and observed, but never led. It is frustrating not naturally being good at all of these things, but as I gain more experience, it becomes a little easier, and a little more familiar.

Growing with experience

Being great at anything takes time, effort, and a dedication to be great. Whether it is trying to knock down a wall (I’ll check back in a couple of months) or leading a team, experience is an important factor. Not being great at something you desire to be great at is frustrating, but I can look back and see growth. Every experience makes me better. HGTV is fun to watch, but sometimes the only way to be successful is to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.

Have you ever been in a situation where a lack of experience has limited your success? I would love to hear about them and how you overcame them! Especially if any make me feel better about my home repairs project success (or lack thereof).

Kevin Richman is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Rachel Niebeling

I love how you tied this together. Such an important principle to keep in mind. In my experience, not having a 2nd language has limited my success (I did a stint abroad). Always being open to opportunities to learn is so important!!!! Especially when it’s hard.

Timothy G. Johnson

Kevin, you nailed it! No pun intended. It always looks easier than it is. I have been in management for over thirty five years and it is never easy. The constant changes, personalities, and lack of personnel in many instances,brings daily challenges to managers today. Listen and learn.

Robert Huff

I love it!
Been doing home repairs for 40+ years and still learning new tricks and methods.
The right tools (at home and at work) are very important.
Listening is equally important.
Understanding with the capability to change through understanding is key.
Thank you!