Today I am writing about a memorable lesson I learned from my first job, as part of an assignment for the Story Skills Workshop.
I was sitting in the meeting room waiting for leadership to come in. Finally, I was going to find out if I had gotten the new position I had worked so hard for. I was passionate about the work I would be doing, and excited about the experience of leading a team at such a young age.
My manager and three other leaders walked into the room. They were excited to offer me a position, but not the one I had applied for. I was filled with disappointment and caught off guard, so they agreed to give me time to think it over. The main reason I did not get the role I was going for was due to my lack of experience having critical conversations, an integral part of leadership.
Faced with the choice of taking a job I didn’t want for an organization I loved, or walking away to find something new; I chose to walk away. Before I did, I downloaded The Obstacle is The Way on audible and began listening to that on my commute. Inspired by the idea of the obstacle becoming the way that Ryan Holiday was preaching in my ears – I looked for something where I would end up having critical conversations hourly.
This search brought me into an account service position where I would be talking with store owners & buyers on a daily basis, ready to solve the never-ending stream of obstacles that can pop up in retail. Knowing that having a tough conversation had held me back in the past, I went out of my way to get on the phone with a customer whenever possible. Soon enough, working side-by-side, patiently, with a disgruntled customer became second nature.
When the opportunity arose again to lead a team, I jumped at the chance. Knowing that the previous blind spot had been identified and overcome. What Marcus Aurelius wrote over a millennia ago stands true today, “The impediment to action advances action, what stands in the way becomes the way.”
Hurdle by Creative Stall from the Noun Project