I’m getting better with the truth. The truth is that I found myself recently sitting in my car in the parking lot of Aldi’s eating an ice cream and listening to a podcast just so I could hide from my family and extend my grocery shopping alone time. Truth. Don’t judge. I love my family, but they drive me crazy sometimes.
I seem to have a habit of facing truth in parking lots. In fact, one of the biggest turning points in my career happened during an emotional breakdown in a parking lot at Los Alamos National Lab. I had never shared this breakdown with anyone until I decided to share it with the whole world in my TEDx talk about Leadership in Tech.
So here’s what went down:
I had just been given the opportunity to lead several projects in a major program at Los Alamos. Bam! I was rocking it. I had arrived. I had worked hard for THIS. I was qualified. My colleagues had faith in my abilities, and I had a supportive network. However, I ended up in the parking lot sitting in my car talking to my mom on the phone and bawling my eyes out. Sobbing. I was sobbing and repeating “I can’t do this!”
The truth is that I was smacked in the face with the reality that I had no idea how to lead people.
Despite my shiny degrees and credentials, I realized suddenly that my technical competence was only part of what I needed to lead teams of people. It was seriously a revelation for me. How was I going to get a bunch of brilliant scientists and engineers to listen to ME? To comprehend my vision? What WAS my vision? And how was I going to get people engaged when they considered things like vision and soft skills a complete waste of time? I was paralyzed by doubt, by fear, by lack of foundation and the sheer degree of technical, professional and personal challenges before me. Paralyzed.
Eventually, I calmed down, but I made a commitment to learn to how to lead.
The truth I discovered that day in the parking lot was pivotal in my career. I realized that my PhD and technical credentials were not enough when it came to moving projects forward and making an impact. The truth shaped every decision I made moving forward, including founding EverRise. I’m getting better with the truth. Will you?
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