I was out of blogging over last one and half months due to my long awaiting trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee. This was one of the most successful trip I was part of as a leader. I had to overcome many adversaries to make things happened. I thought to share the lessons I learned from this trip – not academic lessons that may be meaningless to most.
The first few days in our trip were very challenging. We had missing equipment, broken setup, unavailability of pure water to do experiment, unfriendly bureaucracy with loads of excuses, and unfamiliar territory to overcome any problem. The chance of getting anything done out of our ambitious plan within the tight schedule looked bleak.
I had to balance my thought between finding a way to get any work done and genuine complains against people (not my team) who were responsible for the problems. It was hard for me to find any solution amid all the tension/pressure of problems and constant complains/frustration from other team members.
It is easy to get into complaining mode when we are victim of the fault of other. Nevertheless, we worked really hard to get things going on our first day. At the end of the day, Joe – my advisor, sat with me after dinner. What he said during that time changed the course of the events that were to follow. He said –
“You had given so much effort to put this trip together. We flew hundreds of mile and spent thousands of dollars, our time and effort. We did not come here to face the failure and go back empty handed. The rewards of getting this work done or repercussion of failure is going to affect you more than anyone else, as this is your project and your PhD. So make things happened and I believe you can as you always do.”
What a big difference a leader can make when he/she instills the faith on your ability as well as helps you focus on thing that matters the most! After that moment with Joe, I never looked back. Complains, excuses and problems that came later never bothered me a bit. I was very focused to solve anything and everything that came in the way of my team.
The belief that every problem is there to be solved was contagious to the team and everyone started making things happened. A good team (Joe, Dave, Jim, Audrey and Brett), positive attitude and good leadership had made this trip successful that seemed impossible at first.
Though Joe gave me all the credit for good leadership and the successful trip, deep down inside I know that it was he and his faith on me has changed everything. I learned that – there is no substitute to think positive and keep our focus on solution.
Now I am glad to realize that problems are there in our life for a reason – not to slow you down but to make you stronger, wiser and better than whom you are before. Choice is yours how you see it.