A recent project I have worked on has been very challenging. It has a number of moving parts, many team members, and several stakeholders. Even though I did the best I could to put together a solid plan, it wasn’t exactly what everyone involved expected. Luckily this was discovered near the beginning of the project and the work completed to date had to be done regardless of any changes to come, allowing the ability to change focus. While I am happy to have the chance to work through the issues and get the project headed in the right direction, it is still hard to not feel poorly about how I arrived at this point. It can be quite shocking and easy to let all kinds of emotions get in the way when you feel you have done a great job, but realize the work didn’t live up to expectations. It is easy to feel like it is all your fault and spiral into a self-deprecating pit of despair. Yes, I can really take my work personal and not always in a healthy way. When this happens, I find the following strategies and focus thoughts help me:
- I am not in this alone. I have very competent team to lean on and get through the challenges.
- I did the best I could, based on what I understood.
- No one is to blame because we are all working with the best intentions to move towards the same goal(s)
Giving myself the space to refocus and think through next steps for the project was beneficial. I was able to articulate my perception of how we got to the where we were in the project and to better understand ways to realign. I put all of my thoughts in my journal (I use Day One) . It is so therapeutic to write (or type) your thoughts and then read them back a day or so later. That is what I did.
After reading my journal entry, a few things became clear:
- I understood that a lot of good work had already happened around the project by all involved
- I understood the different perspectives of the team and stakeholders involved
- I understood how to move foward
It became so clear what I needed to do. I needed to share my thoughts with my team and solicit feedback and help. I transparently shared my exact journal entry with my team. The feedback and freedom by doing this was tremendous. The team came around me and gave me a tremendous amount of support and respect. Freedom comes from honesty, and honesty happens when you are transparent.
Sharing my journal entry only hurt before I did it because I was scared. My wife, Lisa, encouraged me to do it. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for her to see it was a healthy move. From this point forward, I am going to continue writing in my journal, taking a break, coming back to read my journal entries, and then share with my teams. The walls of hurt and fear fall down and are replaced by support and relief.