With less five minutes before my presentation, I found myself making my 4th trip to the bathroom stall where I sat down to try and get my breathing and heart rate under control. A team of executives and principle investigators from DuPont flew a private jet up to Boston the annual review of all research performed and funded under the DMA (Dupont-MIT Alliance). I was barely into my second year of research and, despite making significant progress in the sophistication of my experiments, I was terrified that I was going to get bombarded in the Q&A period.
One of the most powerful ways to build trust is the simple-but-not-easy process of making and keeping commitments. It's simple because it only takes two steps: you make a commitment and then you make it happen. It's difficult because it's incredibly easy to overcommit one's capacity, overestimate one's skillset, and overstate one's desire to see it through to completion. In fact, the asymmetric nature of the two steps almost makes it inevitable that some agreements will be broken or renegotiated to something more realistic.
Do people trust you? It's a serious question because it greatly impacts how effective you'll be in those relationships. In high trust situations, decisions can be made quickly, there is no need to second guess a person's intentions or abilities, and the occasional miscommunication can be dealt with in a straightforward manner. Contrast that with low trust situations where decisions need to be discussed in great detail or even require lawyers to get involved.
Dread, worry, anxiety: these are just a few of the emotions that most people experience as the alarm goes off on Monday morning, signalling the end of the weekend and the start of getting back to "the grind." Most of the time this negative emotional state lingers around like a dark cloud with the only glimmers of light piercing through is hope that it'll all be over soon. The hope that we'll "get through it" so we can get back to the weekend.
No, I'm not a masochist. I enjoy warm showers just as much as everyone in this world privileged enough to have access to clean water and cheap electricity. However, I am willing to play the part of a guinea pig if there is some compelling long-term payoff in exchange for short term discomfort.
We often assume that others can see what we see and know what we know. However, the only way to be certain is to not assume, to ask questions, and to connect the dots.
I'm always impressed by individuals that are relentlessly consistent with their goals. Two that stand out for me:
There are few things more embarrassing for a teenager than having to call your mom to come rescue you. However, there I was on the side of Route 5, my car completely out of gas. Had I just taken 5 minutes before I left Amsterdam, I could have made it home without issue. But through a combination of overconfidence (e.g. "I have plenty in the tank to make it home") and being oblivious (e.g. "Oh shit! I didn't see the gauge drop below E"), I found myself having to waste a good hour waiting to get picked up and then having to suffer through the ensuing jokes.
- Access to the right people
- Courage to take a chance
- Assurance that it would work first try
- Right strategy
- Right timing
- Right moment
- Right company
- Right coworker
- Information head of time
- Full backstory
If. If. If. If.
Anger gets a bad rap. Sure, it's not the most pleasant of emotions. It can be destructive and you certainly don't want to live your life there. But anger is arguably a more useful emotional state than apathy. At the very least, with anger comes the energy and motivation to take action and change something. And as long as said action isn't destructive or irreversible in nature, that emotional state can continue to transform into something more useful.
Anger isn't an enemy. Used correctly and sparingly, it can be the fuel for good.