May 26, 2024

Help! I'm Drowning Here

Help! I'm Drowning Here
Photo by nikko macaspac / Unsplash

Let's rewind to the COVID era, a time of uncertainty about our lives and future. On a sunny day, dressed smartly, I entered the office of a new client to lead my new team. We kicked off the project and for a few months, things were going well, until they weren't.

The issue that we ran into was that we had an immovable deadline and at the rate things were going, we weren't going to make it. In addition, I was experiencing some stressful personal things, which compounded the issues even more. We needed to fix this and soon.

Here I come to save the day!

As a result, we had one of our most senior leaders join the team. They quickly surveyed the situation, identified what needed to be done and started to put an action plan to get the project back on track. They moved swiftly and elegantly and had a charisma about them that everyone loved.

They brought the project back from the brink of failure and turned it into a success. They were the type of person many people would want to be on their team, someone amazing who could turn things around.

They were amazing, except for one thing...they obliterated my confidence.

You see, when they came in, they pushed me aside, took control of the situation and constantly questioned and judged my decisions. I could sense the frustration and irritation when we discussed some of the choices that were made. I felt worthless and belittled. In my mind, I couldn't do anything right, and the thought often crossed my mind that I was in the wrong career. I dreaded talking to them.

I knew that in their mind they thought I was dead weight and should just be kicked off and the moment I walked into the office; I got this feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. I felt this feeling of dread come over me and as I walked up the stairs I would think "Where is the next punch in gut going to come from today?"

My mind started going into what I call the Death Spiral, in which the negativity builds upon itself as it goes further down the hole, but that is story for another time. Mentally, I wasn't in a great space and truth be told, it took me a good two years to recover from the repercussions of the events. it.

It hit me hard, but it taught me a lot.

No Support

I had a lot of time to reflect upon that project and I fully acknowledge that there were things that I would have messed up, even if I weren't going through some personal issues. The more I started to think about it, there was one thing that I was missing. One thing that I was silently crying out

In an alternate universe, it would have been great to have someone point out the flaws in my approach, taught me and supported me along the way. Instead, by pushing me aside and taking control, they only accelerated my journey to the bottom of the Death Spiral.

I suspect that if they supported and taught me along the way, I may have come out the other side stronger, with newfound learnings. It may have also alleviated so much mental anguish that I experienced, and the aftereffects of that.

You messed up, but let's fix this...together

Since that time, I have led and managed various people that have gone through a similar experience. They all were struggling in handling certain aspects of their job. Sometimes, they had external issues making the situation worse, other times not.

The experience that I had taught me that people mess up. Acknowledge that with them and help them get things back on track, together. Most of the time, people are trying their hardest but just need a support and coaching. The last thing I want is for them to be is wallowing in the pit of despair, struggling to stay above water, just like I was.

Recovering from a deep sense of uselessness is a journey I wouldn't wish on anyone. It's a long road, but in hindsight, it's given me an understanding of what many people struggle with. It's taught me the importance of being there for others. It's about cheering them on from the sidelines, so they can cross the finish line with their head up high thinking, "I did it!"

Until next time...keep learning!