August 15, 2013 1 Comment
Two years ago, I reluctantly gave up on something as I despaired of ever making progress on it. But today, I reflect on that disappointment as, after all, effort well spent but the benefit was very different from and frankly more valuable than what I’d wanted.
I was regularly joining calls about our Learning Management System (LMS). I was vocal, I felt I was adding value but very little changed in the direction I was hoping for. Undeterred, I persisted. I pushed harder and harder but still saw no results. I felt I was starting to alienate people when I was only trying to help, and I realised that my approach wasn’t working. I realised I could get a better return for my efforts elsewhere so I focused on other things and made satisfying progress. But it’s always irked me that I had to give up on the LMS calls.
Fast forward to today. I’m working on a new project. I was invited, it’s transformational, hugely challenging but rewarding and this time people are listening. But that’s not my point. I find myself thrown together with someone I’d never worked with before, but he seems to appreciate my perspective and when he offers his own I find it eerily echoes my unspoken thoughts. We work together across the boundaries of the project: we work together because we share a passion and a mindset. There is no pretension, we freely insult each other without fear of offence. We’re honest, open, comfortable, EFFECTIVE.
I didn’t know how this happened. I’m not a person that’s easy to get close to. We agree that we’re both “weird”. On paper the chances of a productive relationship look slim. I thought that perhaps the fact that we work on opposite sides of the Atlantic might explain our comfortable cooperation.
Yet we’ve now had the chance to meet in person a couple of times. We worked pretty well together remotely, but our shared passion demanded that we work together face to face to get things done even more effectively. I thought it likely that co-locating would expose fractures in our relationship for sure. That would be fine, you just can’t work that closely without some friction. But no, it didn’t. No friction, just increased productivity and shared understanding resulted.
So, we went for a few beers to celebrate. For me, the story so far is surprising enough in itself…but there’s more.
After a couple of pints the conversation got more personal. I wondered how we had begun to work together and get along. So I asked that question and was surprised at the reply – “Oh I’d heard you talking on those calls a couple of years ago. I related to what you were saying, you seemed to be talking a lot of sense and your thinking was in line with mine, so I felt like I already knew you”. So, you see how my efforts all that time ago weren’t wasted after all – they didn’t achieve what I had in mind, but they resulted in gaining something much more valuable – friendship. So the moral is: well intentioned effort is rarely wasted – you just have to be patient sometimes.
P.S This post is a result of the whole experience. Our conversation around introversion and reluctance to self-promote brought me to coyly admit to my sparsely populated blog. He lightheartedly threatened to troll the comments. I told him he was welcome, but it made me resolve to write more, and of course I had just the thing to write about…