Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Five failures that made me better
Early in my career, I was very focused on getting ahead and doing everything possible to climb the ladder with the company I was with. It worked. In eight years I was promoted four times. But unfortunately, that meant missing a lot of time with my daughter. It's time I will never get back and in hindsight, I wish I had done a better job managing my time and ensuring the time I spend with her was quality time. It's something I am ultra-sensitive about now and at this point in my career, I feel I have a good grasp on the work and family balance.
If you assume people will do what you would do in a situation, you'll almost always be disappointed. And this is very true in business. Many times, I've assumed people would handle something the way I would and they didn't. In turn, I became very frustrated and made a challenging situation for both myself and the person involved. Today, I try to keep in mind that everyone interprets things differently, and they will also make decisions that may be different than decisions I would make. It doesn't make the person wrong, it's all about understanding why they did what they did and using it as a coaching opportunity.
The vast majority of decisions I have made when I am upset about something were almost always bad decisions. I've often made impulse decisions based on what I was feeling at the moment, and the outcome was rarely positive. Now, if I'm disappointed, angry or frustrated and need to make an important decision, I'll take a few hours or even wait until the following day. And the majority of the time, after I cool off, the decision I make is different than then one I would have made under emotion.
This is by far the failure I struggle with the most - and still make this mistake on a regular basis. When I ask someone to do something and assume they know how to do it, it can cause serious frustration with the individual and me. To try and avoid this pitfall, I try to ask myself every time, "Have I seen the person do what I am asking them to do and am I confident they can do it effectively?" If I can't answer those questions with a confident yes, I handle it differently.
All too often, I send an email to someone regarding a topic that should be discussed in person. Many times, people have taken my email the wrong way and assumed a certain tone that I didn't intend to portray. This has caused countless issues, and I now try to think about what I am trying to communicate and whether email is the best vehicle. I often determine that what I need to communicate would be much more effective to communicate in person.
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