I remember during orientation, the head of our Human Capital department posed a question, “Are you afraid that your weaknesses may show once you start working?” I did not respond, and I didn’t think it would be so relevant and make such an impact in my future…but that changed quickly when I started my first consulting project.
While working on my first project, I was eager to begin adding value. I couldn’t wait to feel a sense of importance and belonging to my internal team. But to begin adding value, I first had to go through a process. I went through a period of true trial and error, asking lots of questions, being frustrated, and most trying of all, my weaknesses being exposed. One of my teammates who are well put together, confident, and experienced (way…more than me) had exceptional technical skills. My teammate who was there to be a help and a guide actually intimidated me. Consumed by intimidation, I began to distance myself from my teammate.
Eventually, my intimidation manifested into other feelings such as being defensive and competitive in an unfavorable manner. Even though the saying may be cliché, there is truth to your attitude determining your altitude. As a result, I found that negative attitudes can have a detrimental impact on a team’s cohesiveness, but a positive atmosphere is conducive for positive project progression. I also noticed that my personal and professional growth was being hindered. I wanted to change, so I began to crucify my ego and alter my mindset. I took a backseat and watched how my teammate conducted himself during the project. Instead of being intimidated, I made the choice to be inspired by my teammate’s strengths. Instead of being competitive, I put my guard down and made the choice to be collaborative. Why? Because I wanted to grow! Being inspired by and collaborative with my teammate resulted in his strengths covering my weaknesses while I was still learning.
Advice: If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, apply a gap analysis to your circumstance. Define your current state (where you are) and the future state (where you want to be). In the analysis, it’s really important that you focus on the “gap”! The gap is crucifying ALL ego and throwing it out the door! Humble yourself to be a student by consistently observing, listening, working through frustrations, and applying what you’ve learned from your teammate.