Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Root of the matter

   This is one of those weeks that makes me fantasize about having a nice, boring week. And it's only Wednesday. And I was already thinking this 24 hours ago. Eek! We are SO, so busy at work. In the bullseye of the nexus of a bunch of super-important converging deadlines.
   But few things make a hectic week nicer than being surprised with a call from the security desk, and walking down to find gorgeous flowers waiting for you, right out of the blue!
I got flowered!
   Yesterday I had the opportunity to present my project to a large group of senior leaders, including our company president, in front of my bosses and all my teammates. No pressure.
   I am so comfortable in a round table discussion and when talking off the cuff, but put me in front of a big room of people who are all staring at me and that's when the nerves creep in.
   It all goes back to the pressure I put on myself to try to do everything perfectly, just like the nerves I experience taking my Divemaster exam. But it's also the pressure, or rather the privilege, of representing my team and my bosses in front of our leaders… I want to make all of us look good. It may never feel easier for me, but nonetheless I am thankful for the opportunity and the trust placed in me.
   It seemed like a tough crowd while I was presenting: I looked around the room and everyone looked serious. It concerned me. I left the room with my team complimenting me, but not feeling like it went very well. I felt disappointed in myself.
   But last night, I kept thinking about it, and realized that although the crowd didn't seem particularly enthusiastic, no one interrupted me. They listened to my whole presentation, without challenging me or cutting me off. And I really took that as a win. This is a group of highly paid leaders who are very busy, who had just spent a day and a half sitting in the same chairs, in the same room, listening to many other presenters. I started to feel  better.
   Today, I was in my bosses office at the end of the day handling logistics on some other projects, when our other leader came in. She had spent the afternoon in a recap of the last two days of meetings. And she smiled and reported that our President complimented us on the progress we've made since the last time she had seen me present. And another leader chimed in with some ideas on how to make the program bigger. Both were really excited! I laughed and told my bosses that I would've been less surprised if she had told me to clean out my desk. So right then and there, I asked for a raise. Jeff said no. Ha!
   Seriously, though, here's what I learned: you can get a lot from body language or facial expressions, but you never quite know what conversations happened before you entered the room, what state of mind people are in, or why. And when you're putting pressure on yourself, it's easy to assume that people are reacting to you. But it's better to cut yourself a break, ask questions so you can more fully understand what's really going on, and just do your best. Which I did. and maybe it's okay to believe that everybody in the room is rooting for you too. :)