I have been given a lot of great advice over the years regarding both my professional and personal outlook on things. I have learned to really listen to all advice that comes my way and use it to help make me successful in all areas of my life.
I will admit that when I was younger, I may have come across as arrogant and not very understanding to other people’s concerns when it came down to how I work. I was always a hard worker who gave 100% to every job and moved up the ranks very quickly. Management saw me as a valuable employee who they could utilize to make sure the work got done. I was promoted to my first management position at the age of 18 and found myself with a large amount of responsibility and people that depended on my decision making skills. This was my first taste of management and I immediately thrived and enjoyed working in a fast paced environment where I could manage workflow and produce positive results.
Even at such a young age, I always thought I was a great manager. I was good at what I did and I knew it. I knew it so well that it put me in the category of being border-line arrogant….okay, not border-line, I was down right arrogant. I would have continued on this path and most likely failed professionally if someone didn’t pull me aside and give me a good wake up call.
I still remember the manger that took me aside one day and gave me a huge reality check. I thought we were having our normal weekly management meeting, but he had another agenda. I was 20 years old and felt like I was well on my way to great things in the management field. After giving me my normal compliments about how dedicated I was to my job, my boss proceeded to tell me that I had the management part all wrong. He told me I was a good worker but didn’t relate at all to my staff. He said that I had put myself so far above the people that were working for me that I had now lost sight of what being an effective leader was all about. He suggested that I get in there and ‘get my hands dirty’ so I could see things from their level and never lose sight of what it was to do their job on a daily basis. He basically told me that my head had gotten too big for my own good and that I would soon find myself out of a job if I didn’t make a dramatic change in how I approached people.
Of course, all of this now sounds like common sense to an experienced manager and leader, however at the time his words sounded harsh and cold. I wasn’t sure how to take it and even thought that it was time for me to move on and work for someone who truly appreciated my way of managing.
I was still learning how to deal with constructive criticism and this was the first time when I had really been called out on something that I was doing incorrectly. I am still not sure what it was about this conversation that made me wake up and take notice, but I did.
Thirteen years later, I still remember that conversation and the advice that was given to me as a young professional. I’m grateful to him for putting me in my place and presenting me with the challenge of improving my way of thinking. It has helped me accept new challenges with the knowledge that I can continue to improve myself if I keep myself open to constructive feedback.
At 20 years old, it was hard for me to step outside and look at things from someone else’s perspective. At 33, it’s still hard, but I realized that the more I open myself up to feedback the more tools I have to help better myself both professionally and personally.
Have you had a turning point in your life that you feel has shaped you into who you are today? How have you dealt with constructive criticism in the past that you didn’t agree with at first? Did you step up to the challenge or chose to go in another direction?