The first quarter of the year has taught me a lot about delusional thinking. I’m the type that easily gets carried away with my passions, and wants to believe that everyone is working towards a common good. However, that’s just not the case. Everyone has their objectives, both stated and unspoken, as well as deep-rooted ones that are buried deep in their consciousness.
It’s especially important to grasp this concept in business. If people work for a company, they have an objective. If people work for a startup, they may have a stronger objective. As that startup grows, politics come into play. The waters can become murky. There are no clear sides to take, but sides are being formed in top-secret meetings, and if you’re not high enough up you get left out of the key informative discussions, and are left guessing.
Business is just a microcosm of society. Even if we don’t want to admit it, the world is just one big game and while you can’t actually win it, you can get certain fun prizes along the way — a good job, a great husband/wife, travel to exotic destinations, the freedom to spend a day lying on the beach, reading a book… there’s no exact structure to this game other than that which we define ourselves based on our personal motivators. In business and life overall, we’re stuck in a massively multiplayer offline game where we can either help each other or try to succeed on our own. There are no correct paths to victory. There are no guarantees other than you own end of life.
I’m exhausted of questioning every single decision I make to the bone. I’ve been reading a lot on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In concept and it’s inspiring me. I can’t say I relate to her because I don’t have a Harvard pedigree and I’m no COO. But I do like that she’s raising the important topic of not being afraid to lead as a woman. I ordered her book and look forward to reading it to see what tips she has for not being so afraid of taking charge and getting ahead. Men seem to play this game so well, even if they can be cut-throat to get what they want. Is it necessary to play games in business? I don’t want to say “can’t we all just get along” but I’m learning that the businesses I want to work for in the future will be building products that have a very clear mission in line with how we’re changing the world.
I’ve made a few significant mistakes lately, but none I can’t recover from. I’m trying to distance myself from caring so much about my business tasks, because caring as much as I do adds stress that I have no time to deal with. I just need to focus on execution, not perfection, like the men in my business. I received some very valuable advice from a coworker today about leadership — if you want to lead, don’t ask to be a leader. Do it. I know he’s right, but it’s hard to put into practice. I come off young and inexperienced with the exception of when I write — I pretty much have a job and respect because of my writing abilities — and I’m trying hard to revise the perception of my professional persona, but it’s hard when people have such a clear vision in mind of the mistakes you’ve made in the past. I’m trying to dress nicer at work, as looks do matter, and I’m hoping to show that I can effectively manage without officially managing anyone. I’m not exactly doing the best at that right now. Take three or four, come the next quarter.
If anything comforts me about my job today, beyond how grateful I am to work with a lot of really smart people, is that this role I can see as the defining position in my career. I was kind of traveling along jumping from opportunity to opportunity, but nothing felt right until now. This isn’t the last job description I’ll have on my resume, but it certainly is one that is preparing me for a future where anything is possible. So all is good in love, war and business. I may not like office politics but it’s part of life. Learning to successfully navigate this is a challenge I have now, and I’m not going to get it right the first time. I’ll do my best, take notes along the way, and prepare myself for my next company a few years down the line where I can start over with people who don’t know me, and make the right choices for a true professional.