If I currently worked for my 24-year old self, I would not be happy. Talk about a terrible manager. I did it all. I expected my direct reports to read my mind, I waited for problems to bubble up instead of confronting them proactively, I wanted my team members to "bother me" as little as possible so I could do my job, and I tried first and foremost to make my staff members my friends. I must have subscribed to: "it's better to be loved than feared." Ay, I made a mess. But I'm glad I did (Apologies of course, to those of you out there who I managed earlier on in my career - can we all just chalk it up to lessons learned?). Ok, I wasn't a monster - I like to paint vivid pictures because drama reads better in a blog. It wasn't all bad. I did some things right - I modeled the way, I always worked as hard or harder than I expected everyone else to work, and I celebrated my team members' accomplishments. Sure, I got some things right. But what I have learned about being the leader of a team is that people management is probably the most important thing I can do well, every day.
We are all pieces of other people, things, experiences. Less like a puzzle, but more like a delicious recipe -- a dish that gets more and more rich as you drop additional ingredients in. In cooking, it's very hard to separate out the ingredients once you put them in, and I have found the same to be true in thinking about how I got to be the person I am today. It's hard to think about where I got my love of storytelling, my appreciation of brutal honesty and achievement, my commitment to family. But when I sit down to consider all of my influences, it is very clear to me that there are pieces of me that look very much like people who have been so meaningful to me and my life. I am going to write about these people -- not only to recognize the great things that they have given to me, but also because I think it's an important exercise. Very rarely do we feel that we have the power to impact others. Well, we definitely do, and sometimes, even unknowingly, we do. I want those who have impacted me to know it. Also, we don't emphasize the true beauty of people nearly enough (too often we hone in on the ugliness -- just turn on the 10 o'clock news).
He sat at the front of the classroom on a rolling office chair with wheels, screen behind him, lights dimmed. This lighting was dangerous, I thought, as I looked at the semicircle of us. We looked tired and heads were sure to start nodding. He had a nonchalant expression on his face, detailing all of the research, outlining, and further outlining we would need to do to complete our final paper. From time to time he would turn to his powerpoint (dark blue background with maroon headings) to illustrate his points. He could have been talking in slow motion - it seemed the end would never come. But week after week, we all got closer to the end. Our final sentence. Our fancy binding. Our ten minute presentations.