Facing adversity


My engagement manager and one of the engagement directors had a not-so-pleasant encounter near the beginning of the engagement, and have been exchanging bites back and forth over E-mails ever since.  The storm has been brewing for several weeks now, and it finally came out in the open today during our team talk.  I had advised the EM prior to the talk to tone down some of the comments, but things still got quite confrontational and did not end on a very positive note.  There was so much drama in the meeting that I felt awkward being a participant.

It very much reminded me of a time back at Deloitte when I had a similar encounter, though not directly confrontational, with one of the Senior managers.  I remembered that being one of the toughest times I had at Deloitte, not from a knowledge or expertise perspective, but from a relationship management perspective.  It was one of those situations when you can do everything right but still not be rewarded for your performance, and for people who are typical overachievers in consulting, a very bitter pill to swallow.

The EM asked me for advice after the encounter and I gave him the advice that I would’ve given myself three years ago: take a step back, make amends, and build a stronger relationship coming out of the conflict.  There is a saying in Chinese, 不打不相识, and that’s perfect to describe this situation.  There are still a few months left on the study, and fighting a losing battle will not only cost him his career potentially but also drag down the team, the study and affect the client.  I told him that I had a similar experience and that you will grow and mature from each one.  

I know that because I grew from my experience, quite a lot if I may add.  As I look back, there are many times I’ve found success: when others created opportunities for me, and also when someone or something created a significant barrier for me to overcome to become successful.  I remember all of those times, but I especially relish the memories of the hard-fought wins, and those are the stories I’m most proud to share with others. 

To all the readers out there, including myself in who knows how many years, as you think about what it is that made you successful, be thankful not only to those who have provided you with the opportunities, but also be grateful to those who created obstacles and challenges for you to overcome as well.  For without a healthy dose of both, you wouldn’t have grown into the leader you are today.

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