I’ve posted before about the Idea, Build, Launch and Learn loop, but the essence is that getting feedback about a design is the only way to grow and improve your product. Now I know this a questionable metaphor so bear with me—my career is my most important product.
As an overachieving wannabe perfectionist, it was always hard for me to hear about my weaknesses. I’ve realized only recently how important it is to power through the discomfort to get the feedback I really need. The feedback can come from anywhere in the totem pole: your boss, your peers or even your subordinates. In fact, the more diverse the pool of people giving you feedback, the more effective it will be—just like you would interview a variety of customers about your product.
I recently received two pieces of crucial feedback that I’m incredibly grateful for. The fact that this was corroborated by multiple people makes me confident that these are areas I really need to work on. There were two things that stuck out to me
I need to be more assertive. Now most people who know me might find this hard to believe because I’m usually a pretty outgoing, opinionated person. The thing is though, I have this need to please authority figures. I like approval, heck I yearn for it. I also respect people who are older and more experienced than I am, and I tend to defer to their opinion instead of defending mine. However, I’m learning that I don’t need to be the smartest or oldest person in the room to have a valid opinion—as long as I’m able to justify my stand, I shouldn’t be afraid to actually take a stand. I know that I will be surrounded by some pretty strong personalities in an MBA program, so I’m looking forward to holding my own.
I need to be more analytical. Give me a structured, well-defined problem, I can solve it like most people can. But unfortunately, most problems in the real world are vague. A huge part of problem solving is defining the problem and devising a framework that considers all of the inputs and variables; I still haven’t figured out this bit. The lack of knowing and the uncertainty frustrates me. Instead of thinking at a macro-level, I settle for thinking at the micro-level. This is part laziness and part ignorance. In order to fix this, I intend to read more about problem solving frameworks that successful “problem solvers” use. Lateral thinking is something I could benefit from too. Again, practicing case studies in an MBA should help me get better at this, like they say the first step is admitting you have a problem.
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