You Get what You Want

29 December 2018 · 5 minutes to read

There is a specific sequence of steps one needs to follow when it comes to achieving a goal. First, you need to realize what you want. Then ask for it and I ensure you it will never come/happen naturally/directly. There are sometimes specific circles that need to be completed before you get what you want.

The Past

We organize technical events with Utrecht Java User Group on a regular basis and I often ask for people’s feedback by the end of the day, while having our goodbye greeting with each one of them; I’m normally emphasizing on the negative feedback - that is, I’m asking directly for negative feedback/improvement points. After 3 years of organising events there isn’t a single time yet that I can recall hearing some negative feedback. And I’m pretty sure that’s not because we organize the best events; everyone makes mistakes and through mistakes we can only become better.

The Fact

Few weeks ago I had an appointment about Utrecht JUG plans for 2019. Besides the normal topics about our plans for next year, the discussion involved the resolution of a conflict that happened a year ago. Conflict resolution is one of the major attributes of a Leader, so, I was very open to discuss about everything that happened. Once both sides realised that we had established an honest environment for that discussion, both sides became very open and started exchanging feedback.

The Feedback

At some point, I heard something completely unrelated to the discussion:

You’re not a manager!

And continued “If you were one, you would have been using Excel sheets for all your plans and timelines”.

“But I don’t want to be one”, I replied. And that is true, actually. Wordings like “manager” are nowadays related to the old Project Management style, where people are being treated as just cogs in the machine. Everyone is important (as we say during the introduction of the Global Day of Coderetreat) and that’s why I like the “Leader” term more (, but this is a different discussion, so, let me stick to the point).

The Takeaway

What I fore-mentioned wasn’t my one and only reply. I continued:

But, actually, you know, that’s true, maybe I could improve my planning skills using your feedback.

And I didn’t say that just to say it, I really meant it, because I could see some truth in there and some potential improvement for myself.

Few days later, I came up with the desire to start speaking at conferences (one of the reasons that my website changed as well), so, there are quite a few conferences I want to send a proposal to, but I want to keep track of the status of each single application, so that I can improve (whatever can be improved through this new step of mine). Without thinking about it too much, I opened an Excel sheet and created a table to track the status of my applications.

Isn’t that great? The feedback I received was highly appreciated as you see. Let’s see what happened in the outro of this post.

The Conclusion

I could have remained stubborn and not accept the improvement feedback, right?

But then, on the other hand, that would imply that my request for feedback during our meetups with Utrecht JUG wasn’t an honest one.

I was able to put myself in the shoes of the other person and understand what he meant, why he said it and whether it was true. That happened because I was able to think as a third person without too many emotions from my side, because as we all know:

Decisions about yourself should not be emotionally-driven.

On a different vibe, the fact that I don’t agree with the Project Management behavior doesn’t mean that I need to completely close myself off from anything related to it. Undoubtedly, everything you don’t like has something good at it and this is the motto one should always follow when talking about self-improvement:

Enable yourself to see the positive out of negative situations.

So, in the end, I got what I wanted; of course, not at the time I asked for it, but perhaps there was a reason behind this delay. What do you think? Can you relate to a situation of yours? Let me know in the comments!