Hello, I am breaking new ground reporting on the first 140/150 days. The first 90 and the first 100 are both so yesterday. I’ve moved on.
If there is one thing the first 140 or 50 days has taught me, it’s the value of a non-biased review.
I have mentioned before, I think there is great value in viewing things through a fresh set of eyes. When you start in a new role, you are fresh eyes. Like a baby you see everything for the first time, with no preconceived opinions. But it doesn’t take long before you form opinions and under pin them with biases from your personal experiences, and of course the information you’re eagerly provided with. It doesn’t take long to establish your unconscious bias. And then Look Out, you’re locked in. You’re carrying that around with you and you don’t even know it until your shoulders get sore.
I am in a new role as a General Manager of a Consulting Company, and frankly I am really enjoying myself. The job suits me and the company is great (the people and the business that is). I worked for eleven years in my previous company and so of course I bring all sorts of baggage with me, some good and some surplus to requirements (probably should have been confiscated at customs – so to speak). But I can generally step into this company and view things unimpeded, and most certainly unimpeded by experiences from within the context of this company. It doesn’t mean I am unimpeded by biases from personal experience elsewhere, but I have been doing my best to check them at the door and remain focused on the end goal.
A great way to know you’re bringing a bias to the table is when you sense an emotion attached to your thoughts about a situation or circumstance. A twinge of nerves, an unexpected irritation. Learn to notice them. It’s self awareness. These emotions can be positive or negative of course. It doesn’t always follow that a positive emotion necessarily leads to the best or even a good outcome, but it does tell you that you have an opinion, or an experience as a reference point from which you are now forming your view.
Vegemite – food for great thoughts
Once you’re aware of the presence of an emotion, you can consider what drives it. OK, this happened once before and it ended in an argument, or a load of extra work that added no value, or it happened once before and it ended in praise. So what am I feeling now? I am reliving what I felt previously, maybe I was angry, frustrated or really happy. You know how sometimes you get a feeling you haven’t felt for years, perhaps since you were a child or a teenager when you were really impressionable. A great example is the feelings a particular song can evoke. Perhaps your listening to David Bowie right now and you can feel your teen years. Even food can evoke a feeling, like the amazing moment you first tasted Vegemite and you knew that jar, with its tar like black goo, was the font of all goodness (including taste). It’s the same process. It’s these ingrained emotions that really impact your ability to objectively assess a situation and take an effective action toward the best outcome.
So you want to be a guru? – then practice recognising you have particular emotions attached to particular events, to situations and often to people. Then practice detaching the two. Separate the event and the emotion. Then you can objectively consider the event through fresh eyes and later draw on experiences and information once you are satisfied you fully understand what is happening. Of course, if the event is seeing a snake and the emotion is real fear and the outcome is running for your life- then just run with that one. Don’t be all “Hey man, I just got bitten by a snake and I am wondering how I feel about it. A little sad, a little nervous?”
If you can do this, if you can recognise emotions, you are becoming self aware and you are mastering a hugely important skill.
In my first 140 something days I have been able to take an objective view, to form my own opinions, to not be attached where I shouldn’t be, by sentimentality, or a sense of loss. I have been able to drive better outcomes for the business and for me personally as a result. Now the test is, practicing self-awareness and managing the impact of biases – keeping a fresh set of eyes.