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There Is No “I” In Team But If You Turn It Around and Take Out the “A” and “T” You Get “ME”

When I sat down with my boss a few months ago and talked about how I was doing at my job, he said to me, “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll be fine and you’ll have a place here for a long time. But you won’t grow and I’d like to see you grow. That’s why I’m going to put you in a position that’s going to make you uncomfortable.” He was talking about the art director position I recently moved into.
I’ve been thinking about that conversation because I think I’m starting to understand what he meant about being uncomfortable.
For the most part, the transition into the new position has been pretty easy so far. As far as the technical side and day to day duties of the job go, it has been very easy. I work with a small team of artists who know how to do their jobs and who understand the expectations so I don’t have to do any training (which I think is one of my weaknesses) or hand-holding. It’s the personal side and working so closely with different types of personalities and work ethic that I’m having to adjust to.
It seems like almost immediately after I accepted the responsibility of being accountable for the art department, my perspective completely changed. For example, in the past whenever an email or memo would circulate reminding us to be productive or something like that, I wouldn’t think twice about it because I knew I was getting my work done and meeting deadlines. Now that I’m accountable for someone other than just myself, I see things a lot differently and it’s not always easy. It is, in a word, uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable because I can already tell I’m going to have to grow a thicker skin and fight the demons that work against my self-confidence. Sometimes I’m going to have to be someone’s boss instead of their friend. I can’t explain it, and I don’t know if someone could teach you how to separate business and friendship, but that’s what I’m talking about in terms of a change in perspective. It’s not so much about friendship anymore than it is about understanding the goals and objectives of the company (specifically my department), and doing what I need to do in order to get there. This is particularly mind blowing to me because, like, hello? When did I wake up and suddenly care so much about helping the company succeed as opposed to having the I just work here mindset?
I think of all the bosses I loved working for in the past and I ask myself why I went the extra mile for them. It’s because they inspired me. They motivated me. They went to bat for me when I needed them to. They were positive people. They listened. They did not poison me with gossip and drama. They loved what they did and were enthusiastic about it. They were hard when they needed to be. They encouraged me. I learned from them.
I think if I remind myself of the reasons why I loved working for a great boss and aspire to develop those traits, it will help me to find a place among them.
Of course I’m sure it couldn’t hurt to put this on my wishlist:

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3 Responses

  1. Joie says:

    I’m going to have to pick up a copy of this book. I’ve never thought of myself as becoming someone’s boss because I never wanted to be uncomfortable. I enjoy just doing my job and not having to worry about other people’s work. I’m thinking that the above book might come in hand one day.
    I think that’s a great idea to think about what made your past bosses so wonderful. That’s what I would do.

  2. cee says:

    i completely feel you on this.

  3. carolyn says:

    aww. it would’ve been awesome to work in that building with you. 🙂

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