What I wished I’d known when I started my career – #9
From the time I started working after college to now, I was an adult. A real grown-up who paid taxes and all. I could drive, vote, and buy my own ice cream!
And yet, I’ve often breathed deeply at work and reminded myself, “We’re all adults”. Why?
- Tech environments, like Google, have mostly retained an environment of youthful exuberance, idealism and — gasp — entitlement. It alternately makes me feel like an adult (e.g. when I’m explaining a decision I made) and a kid (when they feed us kale in the company cafe to help our brains).
- Management and being a parent aren’t all that different. I became a better manager after becoming a parent; it wasn’t until then that I truly accepted what I couldn’t control in other humans.
- As a leader I do take care of my people and try to ensure they’re happy and fulfilled with their work. I’ve referred to my team as a ‘flock’ which is simply a family traveling together.
- Maybe sometimes, just sometimes, we act childishly with each other. We avoid conflict. We hide our feelings. We lash out. We demand cookies. It happens.
When I say “we’re all adults”, I’m re-centering myself. If we’re all adults then:
- We are all grown-ups, with different backgrounds and perspectives that I should both value and respect.
- I should assume positive intent. We’re typically all people doing the best we can.
- I should explain my actions or decisions, and I can expect you to explain yours.
- You have your own life, a life outside of work, and I should respect that too.
- I can communicate as much as possible to you. You can deal.
I do need to remind myself of this though. Some days are tough, and it’s not always obvious that we’re in this together. One those days, I go get myself some ice cream (because I CAN). Then I keep on growing up, one day at a time.