PSEL: Have I Actually Improved?

We’re in the final stretch for the 2016 PSEL program and after a rough patch in the summer, I was wondering if I had actually improved in any area.

One area I am confident I improved in is understanding my strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I finally realized that as an introvert, a “networking” cocktail party won’t be something I will excel at. I can attend them and function reasonably well, but really I need to find different opportunities for interacting with new people. I also have to give myself more time to wait for the right chance.

So recently I have come to events with an expectation that I don’t have to interact if it doesn’t make sense. After all, I can learn a lot by listening too. And sometimes when I am feeling too overwhelmed with crowds, I give myself a break. Interestingly though, I am finding that by being more relaxed, I am apparently less intimidating (or at least less grouchy). More people are willing to speak to me in different situations. I also feel that I can be more authentic when I give myself a chance to wait for the right time to open a conversation. I will probably never be a world class networker, but I am finding less stressful and am truly enjoying chances to interact with people one on one.

A stressful, but also valuable part of the program are the evaluation tools we have used for ourselves. It was interesting to hear what others had to say…once I got over the embarrassment of asking. I also decided to focus some of my leadership interviews on people within my organization. It was also good from my management to hear what I felt I need to go in my career. I got some unexpected, but useful insights into how I could improve myself professionally. One of the better ones was to be more patient, and another from my father was to understand that there is no perfect leader. We all have strengths and weaknesses.

I will confess there were some challenging discussions in the summer where I was not on my best behavior, but for once I swallowed my pride and did apologize. After that, I felt like I was generally able to communicate more effectively. I always wonder how long a period of calm can last, but maybe it’s all about the practice in being mindful and communicating effectively. One step back and hopefully two forward.

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