Jessica Soroky Guest Post #18: You’re Invited Inside of My Head

What started as a place to share stories has turned into a place I find breakthroughs. The intention behind these guest posts was to keep The Leadership Gift™ Program in the forefront of my brain all the time.

After 17 weeks, writing them has dramatically changed how I approach problems, and interact with my teams and every single individual in my life.

As I write these blog posts, my inner dialog is usually buzzing. Today, I slowed down to listen, and I realized that in the process of typing the words, I continue to work on things mentally and sometimes cause my own breakthroughs.

You are cordially invited to look inside my head.

Let me set the scene for you. It is Friday, around lunchtime on the back end of a holiday week. The office is slow and quiet, I sit in the mezzanine picking at my lunch with my headphones in, listening to a mixture of Matchbox Twenty and Eminem as I begin to write this week’s blog post…

There are countless studies out there that attempt to classify the attributes of my generation — the millennials. The broad stroke these studies paint declare my generation as individuals that

  • want to work in teams
  • want to work in collaborative environments
  • demand constant feedback
  • have instant-gratification syndrome
  • believe they should get to skip ahead and run the company in a few years

There are many more characteristics, but these tend to be the ones that are talked about most often.

When I first started looking into generational research, I thought I had clicked on the wrong page and had somehow landed on a page talking about the characteristics of an agile team — but that’s a whole separate blog.

I identified instantly with many of these characteristics, and simultaneously denied others. One in particular really made me stop and think: “demands constant feedback.”

I do demand constant feedback, it’s what I’ve been taught to do and one of the things I teach my teams.

From a team standpoint, constant feedback is a key tool to clear requirements and to minimize the amount of rework. But on a personal level, I had never really thought about why I demand it. I had to pause here — what do I get out of it?

The same thing I get out of a lot of my choices: I get externally validated or the opportunity to improve something so that I can be externally validated later. As I write this, I hear myself asking, “When will I be good enough for me?”

Immediately after typing that question, I heard the answer in the combined voices of the entire The Leadership Gift community: “When you are ready.”

There must be a counter-intention I am not aware of yet that keeps me from being ready. It’s clear to me that I like being externally validated, but my intention is to be self-validated, to stop caring what others think, and to be the most powerful me I can be. My teams deserve a leader like that; I deserve a me like that.

While re-reading the previous paragraph, the counter-intention became glaringly obvious. I had actually typed it out: “It’s clear to me that I like being externally validated.”

Instead of focusing on my intention to be self-validated, I decided to focus on the equal but opposite reaction to my intention – my counter-intention. If I could get through the mental block, then my intention would come much easier.

I like getting feedback and endorsement externally – was this wrong? No, not wrong, just true about me, and if I wanted to make it false, all I had to do was choose.

My mind went off into many different directions as I reread what I had written so far, and once again I heard the combined voices, asking me the hardest question, “What do you want?”

I couldn’t answer right away. I know I want constant feedback as a tool to stay accountable, and external awareness of what mental state I’m in. I could feel that there was more than that. While a few more songs played, I looked around the lunch area and observed those around me, and the answer came to me.

I want to be free.

Freedom to me is not desiring, needing, or wanting the validation of anyone but myself, because I’m good enough. Freedom is being powerful and purposeful in my choices and vocabulary. To do this is as simple as choosing differently, and as difficult as reconditioning my responses.

The breakthrough is that this isn’t just a one-time event that I choose differently and my whole life changes. It’s a life-long practice – each time I’m aware and choose differently is a win. Each time I’m aware and choose to just not respond is a win. Each time I’m not aware and my default reaction slips out is an opportunity for growth.

This is the epic battle scene in my story, the battle between my intentions and the counter-intentions that constantly fight them. You have to stay tuned to get the conclusion – it hasn’t happened for me yet, but today I’m one step closer.

Writing exactly what is happening in my head and re-reading my own words has given me the chance to stop evaluating and to start looking. It has become my awareness tool – what’s your awareness tool?

Jessica Soroky, CSM
Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Leadership on 01/08/2014 07:40 am
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