Reactions of a Catalyst

Besides sleeping, eating and investing a slightly worrying amount of time and effort in steering Brighton and Hove Albion to the heights of the Premier League on FIFA, my main weekend activity this year has been building, restoring and now riding retro road bikes.

So whilst browsing the Twittersphere I was excited to hear about a monthly bike jumble sale ran by Velo Café in Brighton. Having slightly less expendable income to splurge on bike parts than the typical MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra), naturally I was excited to investigate and grab a bargain bit of second hand clobber. So that Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 8:30, (an achievement in itself) and headed down to have a browse. Walking around the various assortment of freshly cleaned bike bits I felt out of my depth, whilst I knew what everything was and what it did, with such a large range I struggled to decipher the exact worth of much of the parts on display and whether they would be suitable for the bike I was currently working on. Nether the less, rather than simply admitting this and asking advice, in an effort to protect my ego I decided to attempt a façade of expert knowledge, engaging the sellers in a conversation that would demonstrate my infinite bike wisdom, thus soothing my anxieties about feeling out of place and knowledge-less.

As you may have expected this ended up back firing and most conversations ended in me replying with lots of ‘urms…’, ‘hmms…’ and ‘im not really sure’s…’, a bit embarrassing to say the least. So I had a think, whilst It was clear I was not an expert, what I did have going for me was a large slice of enthusiasm. With this in mind, I made a U-turn. I decided to drop the false pretence and approach the next seller asking for their opinion and expertise.

The difference was noteworthy, so much so that we ended up having a 30 minute conversation regarding a whole host of bike related topics. I learnt things, actually enjoyed the conversation and in the end got the bike parts I needed for a bargain price! (But that’s beside the point!).

So what, you ask, does this long winded story have to do with my time so far in the Catalyst Program? Well actually quite a lot, in fact, in essence the lessons I learnt from the bike jumble could be interpreted as a microcosm of my first three months of Catalyst (aside from assortment of lycra clad cycling enthusiasts). To counter the fear of inadequacy I went into the Catalyst programme with the mind-set that it’s all about having the expertise to nail a task straight away. By doing this, much the like my initial approach to dealing with the jumble sellers I put an excessive amount of pressure on myself more often than not leading to failed or at least disappointed personal expectations.

As I start to become more aware of this, I believe that whilst expert knowledge is of course impressive and extremely useful, as a Catalyst team member if your faced with a project you are not too knowledgeable in (which is likely to be most of them), admit it to yourself and approach it like a metaphorical bike jumble sale taking interest, enthusiasm and the willingness to learn as best practice.

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