In one of his books Jim Collins describes what happens when people are rock climbing and they get to a spot where the rock isn’t very stable. Human nature causes you to grip on even tighter to the handholds you already have. In doing so you can cause the rock to break loose. What you should do is loosen your grip a little, pause, observe your surroundings, and choose and alternate path – even if it means going back down a little.
That story really resonates with me as I have really noticed my tendencies to go back to the same behaviors when stressed. My natural reaction and the correct reaction are not the same things so I am continuing to work on being self aware in those moments. While still feeling very unnatural I’ve already seen this pause and respond approach help lead me down the right path.
For instance, with a current work situation I would normally hire someone immediately to check it off the list. As I caught myself wanting to do that again I paused and decided to wait for the right candidate instead. Even though I so badly wanted to bring someone on earlier the pause caused us to find an awesome new teammate. It was well worth the wait!
Over the past month or so there have been many moments in which I can feel my natural instinct start to kick in. While I’ve been able to catch myself on several occasions there have been more times when a teammate has gone out of their comfort zone to help me see I was about to make a mistake again. How awesome is that? I am so thankful to have a team who is not afraid of telling their boss that he is wrong or about to make a mistake. Without their help I would’ve stubbed my toes way more often! There’s something so calming about knowing that I am surrounded by people who are willing to have a potentially awkward conversation to help our team be more successful. At every turn these conversations have been respectful, professional, appreciated, accurate, and, quite often, have helped to strengthen our relationships.
I really like being right, being wrong bugs me terribly. That said, I am thankful for making mistakes, they help me see I am continuing to push outside of my comfort zone. As long as I learn from them they help me grow. I’m also so grateful for teammates who help remind me of those mistakes in a positive way to help our team. They help to make sure I remember the lessons learned.