Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Photo Credit: -bast- @Flickr

Photo Credit: -bast- @Flickr

Last week in D.C., I learned what bitter disillusionment can do to the unsuspecting professional.

While pitching AWP’s work to an agency, we got the usual questions about who, what, when, where and why

Yet, one particular person insisted on asking us questions to try and make us look stupid or, worse yet, useless.

When that happens, that person is not interested in finding out  what you’re about. They are trying to prove a point about something that has little (if anything) to do with your work.

There are always two groups of people who gather in response to new ideas: people who love it and people who want to find reasons not to love it.

Granted, nothing is perfect.

Nor, is it meant to be.

But, if you find yourself in the latter camp – do yourself a favor: initial (and unwarranted) bias has little, if any, use.

Ask a question. A real question.

You’ll be surprised how often real questions don’t get asked. Real questions find out value. They probe for purpose and insight. The odd thing about that? People forget what they are looking for in the first place.

Therefore, they’ll meander around until they think they find out what they want to know. If you want to know about the “value” of someone’s work, ask this: Why did you create this?

Airing dirty laundry

When this happens, you lose credibility with the person you are questioning. For example, in one meeting, one of the members chose to bring attention to the fact that there are other advocacy groups and projects that campaign in the name of human trafficking (the project we were pitching).

OK – and? Is there a quota? From the gist of his not so subtle and completely hostile statement – he was doing the following:

  • Airing his dissatisfaction of (what he deemed) the effectiveness of such campaigns
  • Questioning the usefulness of our work

There’s very little tact in such a tactic. When you take that route – you unavoidably do this:

  • Lessen the likelihood of me wanting to collaborate with you
  • Cause me to question your own professional validity in the project

If you are genuinely interested in what makes someone’s work different from others (or if it makes a difference) be simple, ask: How does it work?

Apples and Oranges

Despite the fact that AWP is an arts organization – the art part is actually secondary and the social justice advocacy work is the primary definition of our projects. What’s that mean? No matter what, we can connect with lots of agencies that work in the realm of our initiatives. We create advocacy tools.

So, instead of focusing on how we’re different, let’s try: What are your goals?

Just because I am an apple and you’re an orange – we’re still fruit.  So to add, ask: Who do we want to connect with?

What should you keep in mind as the answerer?

  • No return volleys allowed
  • Respond with a question if you are not sure what they want to know
  • It’s not necessarily personal – they’re probably just bitter
  • Stick to the facts
  • Beggars can be choosers – you can always choose not to answer

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jealousy1Sometimes, I find myself trying especially hard  to not compare myself to other people. It’s particularly difficult since the world has even more opportunities to broadcast successes (or failures) through the likes of the web, social media, television and other similar mediums.

Mostly, I am not interested in the careers or actual lifestyles of the people in question. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel the green-eyed monstrous twinge that comes with thinking someone is doing a little bit (or a lot) “better” than you could ever imagine for yourself.

Simple insecurities aside – jealousy comes in various forms (with irrational reactions and assumptions following closely behind).

Sometimes, our own jealousy blinds us into make petty judgments in attempts to make our own weak egos feel better. It’s a pathetic cycle for some – I’ve been getting steadily better at not repeating them.

For example, when you meet someone who is amazingly polished – you may assume that person spends scads of money on clothes and other such things in order to look so good all the time.

Maybe you assume that if someone has what you consider a high-profile job, you draw conclusions about them not having much of a personal life in order to sustain such a career. Perhaps, you resentfully think they may be smarter, better connected or more people like them.

Or, you surmise that if a woman (or man) is more physically attractive than you, they may be a snob or an airhead (OK, I know I’m not the only one who has done that!)

These are a handful of the scenarios I’ve found myself in while having the exact same thoughts.  I avoid trying to examine why I am not satisfied by my (current) lot in life. It almost seems preferable to stew in the proverbial green funk that jealousy causes. Why face inner demons to only depress myself?

Supposedly, bouts of jealousy can be used as motivating factors to “dive into the introspect,” so to speak.  Such bouts can analyze what motivates you, examine your values and recognize what you consider noble and meritorious.

On that note, I must be much more shallow than I’d want to admit, but I digress.

All those scenarios may not necessarily originate from jealousy – but I think such moments have the subtle differences of envy attached to them. Without debating semantics, it’s necessary to understand that if you find yourself envious of others – recognize it for what it actually is. Turn it into something positive.

Instead of griping about individual modifiers (ex. they are more, better, prettier, thinner, smarter– whatever!), keep your mind shortsighted about what makes you who you are. Remember that everything is a work in progress.

Be fiercely proud of who you are where you are. Nothing is ill-fated to be mediocre when you are determined to make it (or you) a success. 

Keep in mind: “Jealousy is all the fun you think they had” – Erica Jong

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