Around 2002 I was selected as part of an experimental group to create an internal consulting group. Something like the “Big Four”, but without the constant loss of institutional knowledge.
This past Monday I re-joined the company as the head of that group!
Honestly, I’m very excited about it.
The team has such incredibly deep knowledge that it’s somewhat daunting as I’m probably the least intelligent person in the room 99% of the time. That said I have something most of them don’t. No, it’s not my amazing good looks, it is my age!
All of the group are younger than me, several by a couple of decades. I had to explain to one of the team members on Friday what backup tapes were! (sic)
But I remember being their age too. I remember wondering why we needed all these “old people”. My technical expertise was top notch and people wanted me. Why did I need to be nice to people?
Over the years, I have learned many lessons the hard way.
I learned that emotional intelligence is worth more than technical expertise.
I learned that keeping a secret is worth more than blabbing to show you are in the loop.
I learned that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. And that asking for help is a gift to the helper and the helped.
I learned to give first without expecting something in return.
I learned to say “thank you”, and mean it.
I learned that my word is, and must always be, my bond.
I learned to give credit often and publicly.
I learned that mistakes happen and the only people not making mistakes are the ones not doing anything new, hard or innovative.
I learned that opportunities are often enshrouded with hassle, perceived risk and the need to overcome inertia.
I learned to accept that I don’t have all the answers and that should accept assistance when it is offered.
And so we embark on a new journey together.
The group is in an interesting place today. It is really a collection of individual contributors rather than a team. Smart, talented, and energetic individuals for sure. But I think we can build something truly amazing if we can learn to support each other more.
Everyone you meet knows something you don’t. If we can recognize that, learn to trust and lean on each other, and learn to ask for help when we need it then the group is destined to be something truly amazing. I hope I’m up to the task of helping them on that journey.