Today was a lesson in both surrendering to things beyond my control and stepping into my power. A project I’ve been working on at work got delayed today—not just a little, but significantly altered to the point where I’m not even sure our partner team understood what we were looking for in the first place. For some brief context, my team doesn’t own the contract but we are the end user so I have been working closely with another team to upgrade our primary software. Because the other team owns the contract they are responsible for actually handling the implementation. My contact has not taken the initiative to follow through on system requirements to even begin transferring data.
All of that being said, this means that I am not able to begin testing and moving forward with THE key objective my team had for this year. Realizing that this is 100% the result of a team not doing their part felt good at first only because I can easily explain what happened. Then I realized that it changes nothing. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t do what they were supposed to, it mattered that communication had clearly broken down between our teams. Yes, we were ultimately the ones who suffer for it since we are the user, but what happened that so drastically changed the course?
I was forced to look at what I could have done differently in this instance. Even though on the surface I can say with all confidence that we established expectations up front and we were merely waiting for the other team, I know that there were probably several moments I could have stepped up. I had stopped our weekly touch base assuming that we were good moving forward and I didn’t stop the moment I felt like things were getting skewed. I should have made sure that the other team understood what was going on. They were completely unfamiliar with our software in the first place and I should have taken the time to level set much earlier on.
Knowing that getting angry wouldn’t resolve anything in this situation, I knew I had to pause and ask what could be done next. This is a huge project and I need to move it forward regardless of the reason for delay. I took a moment and asked what was going on, what I was feeling about the situation. Frustration was the key emotion that came up and I knew it was because I didn’t understand how this could have happened. I didn’t feel responsible for knowing what the other team’s day to day functions were—I felt they were responsible for simply laying out the timeline and doing what was necessary. I know I need to clarify what everyone’s position is moving forward. I felt unheard and jumped to some bad conclusions about gender roles and the other team’s perception of me as a female in the industry. From the depths of my heart I know that wasn’t true, but I felt so disrespected as a project owner and I was fed up with all of the placating and no action from the other team. I understand it has more to do with overwhelm on the other team and a lack of understanding of everything necessary. I know I need to clarify steps further so we are on the same page.
This is one of the first moments that I actually acted on the insight I got from the pause. Had I not taken the time to re-evaluate what was going on there would have been a massive breakdown amongst the teams and I couldn’t afford that kind of set back after learning that we still hadn’t been able to take step one. It was a realization that I was trying to control two teams thinking that because I was in charge, they would understand what needed to be done. I understood that this is not where power comes from, and authority doesn’t equal power.
Owning power is learning to take a beat. It is one of the most challenging things I have to learn to do—and I am still in the middle of learning how to do that. In the course of a few hours you can easily swing from high to low and it is up to you to maintain your emotions. THAT is where your power lies: in not being swayed by what is occurring around you. It is recognizing the moment for what it is and responding to the need. It is responding with feeling without being overwhelmed or owned by the emotion. It is living in the pause and taking the time to respond how you WANT to respond, not by impulse. In short, it is owning the course of your day. Hell, even owning the course of this second–and then moving forward one step at a time.