At some point during college, I remember coming up with what I thought was this revolutionary idea: if only I could do things on my own (operate in a sort of vacuum), I could be a freakin rockstar at anything I wanted to be. The real world required explaining to people your perspective before doing things. The real world required considering the parameters of an assignment. The real world required me to take breaks to consider other people.
*sidenote* I now wonder if that sentiment is not part of what drew me to study English. In writing an essay, I only had to consider the topic, the author, and my own thoughts. At the time, I may not have thought much about my professors who inevitably poked holes in my writing and their ability to understand my ideas all four years.
But then the real world happened. I had group projects. I joined organizations. I was a founding member of an organization. I graduated, got a job, and got coworkers. There were even moments I had to ask other people for help. *GASP*
Now I don’t say any of this to say (despite however egocentric 21 year old me was) that I didn’t or don’t have empathy. I have always loved stories. I have always loved listening to peoples stories and helping them achieve their goals. And if that was not a part of something I was doing or studying I probably would have lost interest real fast. But the ability to listen to someones story, synthesize it with an idea of your own and communicate it to them in a way that they understand has always felt like a lot of work.
These past three weeks we have been working on a team as part of a service design project. They has posed many, many moments when I have had to communicate the value of an idea I have or synthesize an idea I have with another person’s idea and then communicate it to them. And, many times in this process I have dropped the ball. Sometimes, I let it go. The idea was not one I was married to anyways. And sometimes I fight and struggle and argue my thoughts about an idea until my team acquiesces but still does not totally understand what I am getting at. Sometimes there is this weird limbo, where the person respects your vision and mostly understands and agrees with what you are getting at, but does not completely understand enough to know how to execute on that vision.
At this point in my career, I have managed people and I founded an organization which I established a board for and now manage. And I feel so far from mastering this skill. So far that, in comparison to some of the other skills I have been working to improve upon over the past couple years, it feels I should be much further along.
That being said, the experience of working with my team has allowed me to see how others work through this process, try to communicate the value and vision of their idea. In some ways, I think we are all just attempting different things to see what works and what doesn’t. And so every day I am getting new ideas and new insight into how to improve in this area.
So #1 I would like to thank my team for being patient with me in this process. And #2 I look forward to reading this post in a couple months and seeing what insight I might give past me, or someone who may be struggling with a similar problem.