We’re All Adults

What I wished I’d known when I started my career – #9

By Leah Kelley from Pexels via Canva.com

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?

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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