Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I left my smart brain at home

If you don't know what Excel is, or could recognize it but wouldn't know what to do with it, or can add one number and another number in Excel but that's about it, that's perfectly fine, but probably you won't understand anything I'm about to say. Which is also ok.

I've been working with Excel for perhaps 6 years. I am mostly self taught. Through years of online tutorials and over-the-shoulder, on-the-job training, I know how to use a pivot table, conditional formatting and vlookup. I can use an if/then formula, and can even nest a formula within a formula. When I was in the Air Force, I was usually one of the one or two people in the unit to know how to do any of the above (and I always sought out the others to trade Excel secrets and learn new things).

I didn't always know how to work this magic in Excel. I can remember having to have my friend build my first Excel sheet during college. Still, for 6 years I was able to quickly master anything I needed to know how to do in Excel.

Here at BIG INC I am among Excel masters. These people have been using Excel for twice as long, if not longer. They know things. What takes me three or four or five steps, they've got done in moments, and they use a formula as long as my arm to get it done. I follow along as closely as I can, but often they lose me at the second set of nested formulas.

I tell myself that I am doing well enough, that I cannot expect myself to do as well as someone with twice my Excel experience. It's hard to buy this self talk when the new hire, who has fewer years in the business world, is better at Excel. She's more extroverted, which means she has no trouble asking questions (whereas I have to have a note by my mouse pad reminding me to ask questions). She's trouble shooting quicker, and proposing more efficient ways of doing processes. This week I can blame my sluggish thought process on my cold medicine. But what happens when my cold is gone?

I guess I could always say I left my smart brain at home.


Or, I could sign up for this Excel class that BIG INC has this week. The description says that the course is perfect for people who are self taught (and my boss, who is absolutely the best, most amazing boss I've ever had, recommended I take it. She said that most of the course I would already know, but some of the info might be new or better ways of doing things).

And I could *gasp* ask more questions (it is a new year's resolution, and I have been somewhat better at asking).

And I could be easier on myself.

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