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  • Ruth Dettman

How to truly feel ready for anything

Do you know what -50 Celcius feels like?

Better yet, have you ever driven a car in -50 Celcius? I have (and so have a lot of Canadians!)

Years ago, I had to drive from northern Alberta to Edmonton - a trip of around 350 km in the dead of winter. As a Canadian I know a thing or two about being prepared for a winter trip. Winter tires? Check. Blankets & flashlight? Check. Shovel? Check.

While driving, something very unexpected happened. The INSIDE of the windshield started to frost up and I couldn’t see a thing! Even with all of my Canadian-like preparedness, my trip ground to a halt.

And I thought about this icy nightmare the other day when I was chatting to a client.

She wanted to step up into bigger leadership role, but worried about not feeling 100% ready. She thought she needed a ‘bit more experience’ first. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that.

Now my client was a very capable woman. She had great ideas, a passion for her field, and was very motivated to succeed. When pressed, it was actually difficult for her to describe precisely what ‘ready’ looked like.

The reality is that every leadership path has surprises and unexpected careening slippery stops that could never have been anticipated.

What does ‘feeling ready’ look like?

For about half the population, feeling ready means nailing 100% of a job description.

But that’s a pipe dream.

No one can predict what challenges they will face. In my 15 years in global corporations, there were some challenges that no one could predict and no one had easy answers to. Reorganisations that caused chaos in roles and responsibilities, constant change that left employees feeling confused and running for cover.

How can I feel more ready?

Let’s go back to the snow. My car is stopped on the side of the frozen highway. It’s frozen on the outside and NOW is frozen on the inside and I can’t see a thing.

What does every self-respecting Canadian have 1 or more of in their car? It’s the ice scraper of course. I reached into the back of the car and, still shaking my head at the ridiculousness of it all, started scraping the ice off of the INSIDE of my car so that I could see the road and safely make the drive.

The handy Canadian ice scraper is THE go to tool for Canadians in winter. What is the ‘go to’ tool that you can use to be as prepared as anyone could ever be?


Curiosity is the most powerful tool that you already have at your disposal. It helps you to see others and the context a bit more clearly. More importantly, though, it helps you to see yourself.

How can you use this tool to feel more ready? Be curious about the reasons for holding yourself back. The more strongly you feel about holding back, the more curious you should be!

In my experience, these are exactly the situations that are rich with opportunities to learn about yourself. You will see the assumptions that you hold as absolute truths. You will also make the connection between these absolute truths and the impact they are having on your life.

Curiosity in action

I recently checked in with a client who finished her leadership program six months ago.

When she started the program, she was quite unsure of herself. She had always looked to her boss for guidance and mentoring. She didn’t quite trust her own skills or opinions.

We worked on the skill of curiosity. She began to see the patterns in her life and the connection to assumptions lying underneath.

Fast forward six months to our meeting. She tells me that her boss had left 3 months earlier and the role was left vacant. Initially she was in shock and started to feel herself drift.

Remembering the coaching, she became curious and saw her pattern starting to emerge once again. With that knowledge, she was determined to find her courage and not hold herself back. She began to propose new ideas and projects to senior executives and have them approved. By the time I saw her, she was flying high with excitement about the future.

Her manager’s role remains vacant, due in large part to my client’s ability to step up.

Don’t wait until you feel 100% ready!

Feeling ready enough to take on new challenges like a new job or promotion is tricky. It’s true that there will be challenges that you don’t feel prepared for.

But it’s also true that you already have the ‘go to’ skill of curiosity.

Staying curious will help you find courage to take the leap to the next level. It will also become your ‘go to’, fear-busting, vision-enhancing tool to help you be as prepared as anyone else for the blizzard of uncertainties that lie in the path of every great leader.

If you’d like to explore how to feel more ready to take on your next challenge, drop me a line! I am happy to hop on the phone to talk about what and how that happens in the coaching space.


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