After spending two weeks hyping up a crowdfunding campaign for The Learning Collaborative, I noticed it was particularly easy to get washed up in my own hype without maintaining a balanced perspective. There’s no doubt I’m excited about all the work that we’re doing at TLC, and it’s something I haven’t stopped being excited about
I’m definitely proud of the fact that we managed to raise over $11,000 while making the front cover of the North Shore Times – I’m not afraid to speak up about successes unashamedly in spite of whatever Tall Poppy Syndrome, as long as I also front up about my failures. In order to balance out all this excitement and optimism though, I thought it would be a good chance to reflect on my personal weaknesses as well as some of the organisations – useful to put the little success we’ve had so far in context.
At the individual level
There are so many here that I thought I’d jump right in with a non-exhaustive list of weaknesses I need to improve on. I thoroughly appreciate critical feedback too (I’d far rather that than silence) so if you have any thing to add, please do get in touch with me about it – I’ll thank you for it!
Firstly I realised how forceful and pushy my communication can be with others during the campaign – while this was made obvious when asking for donations from friends, it strikes me how this is true of almost all my communication. As an aspiring leader, I need to focus on creating meaningful conversations rather than pushing out demands to people in all forms of communication.
On a related note, I noticed how much more I talk than I listen. Having written many long-winded messages to friends, mentors and media outlets during the campaign, it made me realise how I could have been using my energy much more effectively by asking genuine questions rather than writing persuasive essays. I noticed that I often do this when I foresee an answer that I won’t be pleased with, that I write/talk more to explain my reasoning to refute any rebuttals.
Despite telling myself I’m a bold risk-taker not afraid of social rejection and failure like I’ve alluded to in the past, I found myself particularly weak in the face of criticism. When I received negative feedback about the organisation or our campaign, I was quick to defend myself and justify the reasoning at every step of the way, without stopping for a second to first analyse the critique for what it’s worth until after I replied. This form of arrogance actually stems from a lack of self confidence – of being too afraid of hearing other critiques that I must shut it all up.
Finally but perhaps most importantly is the lack of love I’ve had for everyone around me. Having become caught up in the cult of busy, I didn’t allow myself the time to appreciate each moment and enjoy the company of who I’m with; whether family, colleagues or friends.
Considering that my main motivation for starting this organisation was to maximise the love I can give to the community in a systematic way, it’s unfortunately ironic that it resulted in not caring for the family and friends that I should love the most! I owe a big apology to my friends and family, and hopefully I’ll be able to work on this.
At an organisational level
There are many obstacles and weaknesses we face as in our organisation’s model too, such as our controversial context-specific pricing where people pay differing amounts for the service depending on their background – despite my passion for this idea, it’s been something that many people don’t resonate with. There’s also the challenge of the scalability of our model considering our individualised coaching service which relies on intimate relationships – meaning we’d need to recruit and train a tonne more coaches if our model is to effectively implement large-scale impact. We’re currently working on each of these problems although they’re no easy feat to overcome – an important take-home message for myself amidst the hype and optimism I have while working on this project!
It’s incredible how useful this reflection process is during a period of relative success, as it definitely helped put my emotions and perspective into context. While I openly admit to having an arrogant personality, I feel that sharing successes publicly while also being open about one’s weaknesses is a great way to develop humility and confidence – even though these two traits are often considered paradoxical. Our culture often encourages us to be quiet about our successes for the sake of “not blowing our own trumpets”, although I feel that this advice can potentially exacerbate the problem through a divide in what we think and say about ourselves – leading to the all-too-common “fake humility” which stunts our personal growth.
I genuinely wonder if this approach to success would make our society better or worse off – I of course would personally advocate for it, but I’m both biased about my own model and more arrogant than the average New Zealander – it will definitely be interesting to hear other, more balanced perspectives on this idea though!