Colin Powell’s rule #3:
Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
Ouch! How many times have I not lived out this rule? As someone who is passionate about what I do, it is easy to believe deeply in my ideas. It is also easy to get too attached to them along the way.
having my feelings hurt
Many times, it is easy to feel wounded after having an idea rejected. The problem with this is that I am taking things too personally. People aren’t making a comment on me as a person, they just don’t like that particular idea. One problem with this is that when each idea is rejected, or not taken, it is easy to let this affect my willingness to share another idea when the time comes.
Henry Cloud talks about how some people respond to a given situation. They take it Personally; they imagine it is Pervasive, that all their ideas are bad; and they make it Permanent, always tending to put themselves too close to their idea.
Having my feelings hurt sounds really childish, and when I think about it, I am embarrassed to even admit that this ever happens to me.
So how can I move past making a rejected idea not destroy my ego, and move on to the next idea?
not getting your way
Being a team player means that you fight like crazy for your idea, but hold it loosely enough that people don’t feel like they have to take your idea.
I have been in plenty of meetings where if someone wasn’t getting their way, the rest of the people were shamed into finally agreeing to that person’s idea, even though it wasn’t the best one. That feels pretty nasty.
So what happens when you don’t get your way? Do you push your idea through? Do you clam up? Do you try to subtly sabotage the idea that was selected? Do you just half-heartedly go along with the plan that wasn’t yours? Are you going to be a sore loser or can your rise above getting your way?
So many tech people I know can use this opportunity to bury their true feelings, to add this to the pile of disappointments that add up to become a passive-aggressive, bitter production person. This isn’t helping you or your team. Learn how to “lose” well.
jumping on board with the idea that was selected
The tension of fighting for your idea, then holding it loosely is to be able to drop your idea and get fully behind the one that was chosen. This is one of those tensions that Andy Stanley would tell us to learn to manage. It will never go away.
This is one of those things that can be very difficult to do but is something that bosses look for and that says a lot about who you are as a person. Once another idea has been selected, your character can show through by you giving your very best to whatever idea the team has decided on.
If you give the “not your idea” your very best, you will be seen as an amazing team player. If it fails, like you said it would, and you gave it everything you had, it can’t be said to have failed because you gave it your very least. AND if you keep your mouth shut and don’t say “I told you so.” you will be trusted that much more for the next idea.
How can you rise above your ego to support the best idea, whether it is yours or not?
Next post: General Powell’s rule #4: It can be done!