In Feeding the Machine I wrote about the need to continually push yourself into new areas and ideas to stay challenged and grow. I recently made a career move to shift into a new team focused on a specific area. My great desire in doing this is to put myself in situations which push my knowledge and abilities while leveraging my strengths in an area I’m passionate about. There’s certainly an element of vulnerability, but I don’t think I will get where I want without it.
One interesting aspect about the move was timing. I did this as the group was expanding from a team acquired a year ago to include two new companies. The combination of the parts brings together new people who’ve been focused on their culture, products, and ways of business. They all have to mesh for us to fulfill our potential. I had some advice to wait until the merging was done and then see if I wanted to still move in. However, I deeply believed that early was the right time to do it specifically because of the timing.
Last week was a fabulous example of why I made the leap and why my gut was right. Our team had a meeting scheduled to brief an industry analyst on what our new business unit is all about from our products to our view of the market to our approach to the market. I got to hash out the concepts and collaborate with three other team members from the different acquisitions and our new boss. There was certainly some pressure since our company made a tremendous investment in order to get these pieces together.
What happened in the prep conference room was anything but feeding the machine. We all bounced ideas off each other, wrote on the whiteboard, talked about benefits and capabilities, and really got to know each other. Each person at the table was there for the same reason as me and was wide open to new concepts.
What happened at the presentation was even more special. Our group was collectively smarter because of the work we’d done but we also had gelled. When we were presenting, everyone tried to live up to each others’ expectations. I really felt I needed to perform my best because everyone who spoke before me truly did their best. The terrific thing about it was that every team member settled down into an ease where we could defer to the right person for the right question. There were even jokes we wove in to make some points which everyone got in on.
Of course we did this with people in the room who represented the work of hundreds of people and literally billions of dollars of investment. When I said there was pressure, I really meant it. The meeting didn’t feel that way though. What it felt like was new chemistry being formed and the results being more than the sum of the parts. That apparently even came through to some of the audience who participated over the phone.
There’s certainly a lot of work to do as I go forward with my new co-workers. However, if we can all continually up our game then we will not only succeed, we’ll have a great time doing so and build something truly noteworthy.