helpgrowchange

Humility and change

I learnt humility last week. It hit me like a freight train. I am still thinking about it almost a week later. I wasn’t prepared for it. And it has forced me to rethink the way I go about my life.

Ok, not quite that bad, but the feedback I received last week was still pretty shitty – forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and exactly where I needed to be.

About seven months ago, I got the opportunity to lead a new team. I saw it as a challenge as I hadn’t worked with the team before, didn’t understand the tools they used, or technologies they worked with. I was unsure as to how they would accept someone without the relevant technical experience to lead them forward.

Over time I have strived to build strong relationships through mutual trust and respect, both as a team and with each of the individuals. One of the questions I am continuously asking is for honest feedback about me and how I am leading them.

This question often brings out an array of opinions ranging from ‘you are doing great’ to ‘maybe change the time of the team meeting’ or ‘there have been a few misses, but overall it’s great’. These responses are fairly minor, and I can work pretty quickly to adapt and grow. That is until last week.

The discussion I had then hit the core of what I strive to achieve with the team every single day. What I thought I was doing right, was being perceived in a completely different way – a way detrimental to the growth of this team.

I was stricken (in a leadership sort of way).

At first, I wanted to justify myself. I wanted to use all the excuses in the book to explain why this action was taken, how it benefits this person and the team. But then I put myself in their shoes and realised that they are different to me. They are perceiving the situation through their eyes. I realised I simply needed to listen.

After this person had finished, I didn’t retaliate. I didn’t try to justify myself. By then I had realised that in order to grow, one must receive and process all feedback. Because this feedback was core to my leadership style, I needed time to mull it over. I thanked them for being so honest with me. The whole situation made me realise one thing.

If you want honesty from someone, you need to build trust and respect first.

You won’t get honesty right off the bat. It doesn’t come overnight, nor is it easy. A strong relationship needs to be built first, then the true changes begin to happen. When we become comfortable with someone, we open ourselves to vulnerability. We open ourselves to honest criticism. We need to be open to this criticism.

Without being open, we cannot learn anything new. Without learning, there is no growth. Without growth, we can’t be better than yesterday.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

I’m often questioning myself on the motives of other people. Why do some react to situations differently? Why do some have such a brash attitude or a quiet demeanour? I debate with myself as to why one person reacts one way, and another person differently. It makes my mind boggle how two people are in the same situation, but have such different reactions. Do you find that too?

Have you been in a bad situation recently? Something that either caused an argument or misunderstanding between you and another person. I’ll bet the resolution came down to one of two things; you understood the other person’s view, or the other person understood your view.

More often than not, any bad situation is due to the differing perception of the people involved. There is a whole science behind this, but simply put, everyone perceives a situation differently. Due to a mixture of emotional state, memories, and personal values, people will interpret and react to situations differently.

Quite often, you probably question why someone makes a certain decision or reacts a certain way. It’s not your way. Sometimes this might cause you irritation, frustration, or even anger. These other people may feel the same way about you for something you’ve done. You certainly didn’t mean to offend that person, but because of the frustration they feel, they take it out on you by attacking you in some way – through hurtful words, or undermining some good work you’ve done. This lack of understanding from both parties is a major cause in turning any situation into a nasty one.

How do we get out of these situations? How do we stop this endless cycle of resentment, frustration, and hatefulness?

One word: Empathy.

According to the dictionary, Empathy means ‘the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings‘.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It is the first step to understanding anyone. What would you do in the same situation? Bear in mind that that person has traveled a much different path than you in life. They have loved, lost, and achieved different things. Try and think as to why they would do something a certain way.

This is very hard to do. I still struggle with it every day. For example, I am quite driven and always willing to learn and experience something at least once. It frustrates me to no end seeing someone willingly wallow and stagnant in the same rut most of their life.

But I take a deep breathe, I put myself in their shoes, try to think of how I would react (knowing what I know of their past), and I already feel more patience toward them. I understand them a little more – then I can try help them a little more.

Understanding someone else’s thought process (even a little) can go a long way in resolving situations, building trust, and living an easier life – both for you and the people around you.

Think of a situation you are stuck in at the moment where you are in conflict with someone else. Put yourself in their shoes.

Just imagine for a little while … and take your first step to greater understanding of the situation.

[Featured image: Pierre (Rennes)]

The calm before the storm

I’ve been away on a family holiday for the past two weeks. It was a great time away from the office, away from home, away from life in general. There was much needed reflection on where I am today, where we are as a family, and where we want to go.

But as I sit on the train, ricketing its way into the office, I can’t help but feel that this holiday was the calm of the storm. Almost like the slow motion effect you get after ramping off a hill and calmly floating through the air for a few seconds before slamming into the surface to continue racing downhill.

We all need these periods of calm bliss to get away from it all. To take some time to go see and experience some place new. Just something to get out of the daily grind. And when you do have the opportunity to do so, take some time to simply stop and think.

Think deeply about many things.

Think about…

where you are in your life.
Are you where you want to be? Are you happy with the person you have become? Celebrate the successes you have achieved. Reminisce about the past handful of years and see just how much you have gained, lost, or changed.

what you have.
Appreciate the little things you have that make your life easier. Appreciate the people in your life. The abundance of food, clean water, or even a roof over your head. Being able to afford pension fund or medical insurance. Do you really need everything you have? It might be time to let go of some ‘stuff’.

the future.
Where do you want to be in your life? What does success mean to you? How can you get there? Start to formulate a plan of how you can achieve your dream, or become the person you want to be. It doesn’t need to be super detailed. You will know what you want to become by using the first thought that comes into your head when you ask yourself that question.

My reflection

I’m not the type of person to tell you how to do things without doing it myself. I thought a lot about the three things I’ve mentioned in this article. I am more than comfortable in sharing it with you.

Overall, I am happy with the person that I am today. My family and I have achieved a lot over the past few years (the last 7 in particular). I want more of it. A stronger family bond. Success for my wife. More positive impact at my workplace.

More and more do I find myself appreciating what I have in my life. My healthy family, my house, the opportunity to afford the little pleasures in life. I am an extremely lucky person to be able to have all of this around me.

Get away

I encourage you to take a break from your daily grind – whether that be an amazing getaway or staying with family in another city. Holidays can be expensive, but I believe the experience that you or your family will gain will make it well worth your while. Just the act of getting away from monotony of daily life helps the process of reflection, planning, and eventually, the action you need to take to get the life you want.

Where will you be going?

Learning to let go

I’ve been on holiday for just over a week now. Away from the office, away from home, away from the monotony of daily life. It’s been good so far. My family have seen some interesting attractions and have learnt to live together in a cramped holiday home. My wife and I have really come to appreciate what we have back home, but there is one area where I have struggled during this time away.

That is to let go.

Back at the office, there has been an extremely high volume of problems to resolve. Some critical decisions are being made about team utilisation. And it has been weighing heavily on me that I have not been there to partake in the decision making process. Plans I had in place might be smashed to pieces. People utilisation might thrown out of whack. The team will come crashing down.

But then I realise that I have worked hard to not build the team on a house of cards. They have been provided opportunities to grow, to perform above and beyond, and to climb outside of their comfort zone. I trust in the decisions they are making, and will back them all the way.

Learning to let go is hard. It’s a haze of ‘what if’s’ and ‘should haves’. The more you think of these, the more worked up you become. You worry about possible outcomes that will never happen. In other words, you worry about nothing.

For me, the best way to let go is I tell myself I did the best I could.

If you look back at the past leading up to this point telling yourself you did the best you could, your worrisome self will immediately reply with ‘you should’ve done that‘ or ‘what if you had gone that way’. But if you really think about it, would you have really done it differently – really really?

I doubt it.

You did the best you could with what was provided to you and what you knew at the time.

Be content with that statement. Accept it. It is the complete truth.

Once you accept that you have done the best you could, you will be able to trust in the outcomes of situations while you are away. You will accept changes in situations a lot more quickly. It is something I am still learning to do, but this has worked for me with amazing effectiveness.

Give it a try, it might just work for you too.

[Featured image: One of my holiday snaps of Lake Rotoiti]

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