Friday, January 22, 2016

The Drama in Our Heads

In my last post, I wrote about rejection and my persistence in knocking my head against the wall when I want something.

One of the blocks I have found as I navigate my way through the work world is my pattern of assuming things are personal.

I don’t know if this is more common with women, but I like to connect with people and if I think they aren’t interested when I am, I assume it’s a personal affront.

A number of months ago, I was talking with a startup that was creating a service that I had felt passionate about and was excited to think that I might be involved in some way.  I connected with one member of the founding team, and she was wonderful and supportive.  I got her and she got me.  But, then, I spoke with the “top dog”.  She seemed uninterested in me, which I couldn’t understand because I “knew” I was a perfect fit.  She also didn’t want to pay me anything close to what I knew I was worth.  That was no easy assumption for me.  Many times I undervalue my work, but I had done enough work at Stanford to know I did have something to offer and it was worth a certain level of compensation.

I watched the startup begin and stumble and I had known what their weak points were and I was right.  But, in the end, they are coming around and are doing fine without me.

I spent months not connecting with them acting like a hurt little girl because the woman at the top, I had decided, didn’t like me and I was disappointed because this was my “perfect fit”.

As time went on, I discovered new opportunities in other areas, ones much closer to my heart and compensating me at the level I felt was fair.  All in all, much better fits for me than that startup.

A few days ago, I finally went back to the startup and showed my face at an event. I had been thinking all along that I had been in a fight with “someone” and they would wonder why I was back. There was much drama in my head.

I hugged the team member who originally had been kind and supportive and told her that I was thrilled for her success.

As I went up to the woman in charge who I thought had snubbed me originally and congratulated her on her accomplishments so far (I was so proud of myself for letting bygones be bygones), she looked at me like, “who are you…I have no idea who you are.”

I stood there somewhat dumbfounded like “really, you don’t even remember my face?”  It was fine, though.  The startup is doing well.  I am happy with alternatives that have come into my life. 

But, it reminded me of the crazy things we do in our heads that have no connection with reality and how those thoughts dictate the actions we take and the feelings we have.

That is why I love Design Thinking.  (You knew I couldn’t write a blog post without mentioning it, right?)

It is so important not to get bogged down by what you “think” someone is thinking because they might not even be thinking it.  In Design Thinking, so many of the exercises are about not limiting your thoughts which completely halts innovation. 

I have been pretty good about following what I am teaching, but this was a weak point for me. It is all about learning and I did.

Next time I create an entire drama in my mind about another person, particularly in the work world which still feels new to me, I will picture the startup founder’s face as she looked at me and how completely opposite that played out from the story in my mind.