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Embracing the Tension

The Impostor Syndrome Dance

Forty-eight days ago my team and I found out that we made to the next round of the NIKE DESIGN WITH GRIND CHALLENGE.

WHAT!!! Are you kidding me?

First came disbelief and my knee-jerk reaction to things like this ...distrust. I mean I celebrated a little and I was outwardly excited but inside I was doubting.

Are we seriously the first people to think of this idea?

I can't believe no one (as in zero) has thought of this at NIKE HQ or Rogue or anywhere for that matter.

When we decided to ship on the bumper plate idea I was sure we would be shot down. I didn't believe that we were the first to come up with this idea. I assumed they had already tried this and it didn't work. I mean this is NIKE they have some serious innovators and brilliant people working for them.

How could this not have already been thought of?

I mean they are all over the backdrops for weightlifting competitions and Nike does make Olympic weightlifting shoes. If Nike Grind needed some new innovative ideas why didn't this ever come up as a possible idea?

Once I got over the first idea that yes our idea is original and it might work the next thought arrived.

How many people actually submitted ideas?

Were we the only ones?

I immediately logged into my account on OpenIDEO to see if they posted all the ideas that made it through to the next phase. Out of the 415 ideas submitted, we made the cut with 16 other ideas in this phase.


I think I might have been stunned for a day or two but along with the news came a flurry of activity and requests.

The announcement came right before a holiday weekend (Memorial Day).

Right before speaking at my first regional Agile conference in Nashville, TN Music City Agile


Right before my 10 year anniversary on May 31st.

I was speaking on June 1st at the conference and my husband was coming to meet me in Nashville to celebrate on a long weekend getaway.

I had to pull on my yoga hat and focus my energy on the speaking event first and taking a solid moment to celebrate with my wonderfully supportive husband.

THEN I needed refocus on the NIKE project.

There was an invitation to attend a Refinement Stage Kick-off webinar. We had several forms that needed to be signed and returned including a request for material to begin making a prototype of our idea.

Oh and BTW the deadline for the next phase of the challenge was 45 days away.

Hmm this should be do we make a prototype? ...Can we make a prototype?

We ordered as much material as we could I mean we were making weights and we needed at least 10lbs to see if the stuff would stick. Since I was in Columbus where Rogue is located and we assumed that's where the plates were going to be made...I ended up with 66lbs of Nike Grind rubber delivered to my doorstep.

After that things moved pretty fast. I reached out to my contact at Rogue who informed me that the plates were not manufactured in Ohio. I needed to ship the material to Hi-Temp in ALABAMA.

Where? Who? what?

So long story short Rogue makes the connection to the owner of Hi-Temp and we trade a few emails and based on Rogue's word/connection Hi-Temp is on board and the material is on its way to Alabama to be made hopefully into our first prototype.

Did I just get the best freaking connection ever right now? Whaat is happening?!?

In the meantime, my teammates are also a little skeptical. There is concern that this can't be as easy as throwing the rubber into a press and out comes an Olympic bumper plate...or can it?

"Easy-bake oven" was coined during one of our team calls to describe what we thought the process might be like.

For me, I was nervous about shipping ALL the material and trusting that Rogue and Hi-Temp are good people and would actually follow through.

What if they steal it and make plates and send it to Nike cutting us out of the picture?


...If it wasn't for you meddling kids...muuuhahahaha...​

Hi-Temp received the material on a Thursday and on Monday by Noon pictures of the first round of prototype plates were on my phone. I was in a meeting getting ready to head out to lunch and I literally almost cried.

We made this happen.

This is real.

This might actually work!!!

Reflection: Looking back now and taking a page from my learnings during altMBA and from listening to Seth Godin about learning to embrace the tension...

This might work or it might NOT work.

There is only one way to find out and that is to ship it.

Put your idea's out into the world and see what it gives back.

Even if it doesn't work you at least learned something from the experience and next time you can ship better art.

The experience of shipping gives you the confidence to ship again. Learning to dig in and accept that sometimes you need to take a risk and work without the safety net or as Seth says... "No map".

Ignoring the lizard brain and doing it in spite of the lizard is a spectacular feat and shipping on a regular basis gives you the grit to lean in even when you feel like an impostor.