29 July, 2011
My Facebook status this evening said "This could, very easily, be one of the best days ever!". And that is a big statement to make. But I have very good reason for it! It taught me or rather reminded me of some of life's most important lessons.
Here is a bit of background. Over the last one year, in my current global role, I had worked on about 9 different projects. While 8 of them got exceptional results, there was this one project which had been struggling for a multitude of reasons, many of which were not directly under my control. Also, given that mine is a global role, all these 8 project with excellent results happened to be for markets across the globe, while the one struggling project was for this part of the world, where I am located in. Because of that, everyone I was meeting on a regular basis (from a location standpoint) seemed to think my work was below par while my colleagues across the globe thought otherwise. A couple of times, I also got feedback on this and I kept saying "Look, the project is not due yet. When it is, it will be in a good shape. That much I promise." Truth was that I knew what would make it successful, but was struggling to execute it, again, because of factors outside my direct control.
The deadline for this project (i.e. the presentation to the top management) was today and as of this Monday, things were still far from falling into place. Once again, I got the same feedback. "This is not looking in good shape." "This is your region. Your visibility is important here, but so far it is not looking good." "You are not engaging the right stakeholders properly." etc. etc. And my head would ring, "But that's not fair! I have 8 projects excellent results, why am I being judged on just this one?! Anyway it's not my fault!"
And then I realized I have two options a) Wait for some magic to happen to make this work within the next 4 days, risking the time even further, and probably also settle in for a sub standard project and bad reviews for me, and then blame others for it, or crib about the unfairness of the system or b) Go beyond my job description significantly, work on the whole thing myself in the best possible manner I can and take full responsibility for what comes out of it - if it works, I win; if it doesn't, I probably would end up in the same state as option (a), so might as well take this chance.
So I worked and worked and worked. A horribly hectic few days with very little sleep, focusing all my energy on just this with a constant prayer that this would work.
Yesterday evening, I put the complete presentation on the table of one of the senior managers, as pre-reading.
This morning, before I left for my work, I told the hubby... "If the presentation today doesn't work, I might just quit." In my head, I didn't know how to have coped with that situation. I simply didn't want to be judged on this anymore, I guess. I had never missed a deliverable at work till date, that too ensuring that it is of good quality and I couldn't bear the thought that this would be my first miserably failed deliverable.
Needless to say, I was a huge bundle of nerves until the presentation.
At about 11am, I presented my plan to the senior manager and she said "This is such a significant turnaround from what I saw just a couple of weeks ago. I think this is one of the best pieces of work I have ever seen. Well done!"
I could cry then. It was something I thought I would never hear.
But it was not time to cry yet, there was one more presentation, coming right after that... which was to her manager, far more senior, one of the biggest shots in this region.
I presented my plan once more.
He said "This is the most comprehensive, most well thought through plan I think, I have ever seen! Excellent work!". Coming from someone who has been in the company for about 20 years, this meant a LOT! His comment was then immediately echoed by the other manager whom I had presented to, earlier. She echoed his feelings, supported my work and I saw my own boss beam. My boss had struggled hard, am sure, to keep me afloat in everyone's eyes and this was her victory as well!
This time I could really cry, but being in my prim and proper self at office, I didn't.
Post the meeting, my subordinate and I went off for a celebratory lunch.
Later in the evening I attended two parties - an office party at my boss' place, and a friend's 30th birthday party. I had a ball at both the places!
At my boss' party, the senior manager I had presented to first, came up to me and once again said how much she loved my presentation and how much she recognizes my work behind it. I could have hugged her just then, but that would have been inappropriate, so I didn't. I just told her that I apologize this came in just the last minute but she said that she recognizes that was not really my fault. Overall, it made me feel on top of the world.
Then I went to my friend's birthday party and had a blast there. It had the entire Mausams core team there (since the birthday girl was one of the leads in Mausams) and we had a real fun time. The dinner, the drinks, the birthday cake, the conversation, the madness, the walk to the bus stop from Dempsey, the bus ride, the mrt ride to Bishan and every other thing about it was downright fun! I could share my joy and success with all of them and it felt incredibly good! It was an awesome way to wrap up such an important day!
An important day not simply because my presentation was well accepted, but an important day because, like what I have written above, I was reminded of some of life's most important lessons, which are...
a) Giving up is easy. But it makes a ton of difference when you do not.
b) Most things are under your control. It is just a matter of how much you would push yourself to keep them under your control.
c) While what others think of you may be a fair reflection of what you are projecting to the world, it is probably more important to realize what you want to stand for and what you value yourself to be.
d) At the end of the day, your work would speak for itself.
And last but not the least...
e) It is most important to surround yourself with the best people you love. Sharing a success is far more meaningful than achieving a success!
The day would not have been the same had it not been for my wonderful friends, hubby and also my mom whom I downloaded all my frustrations, nervousness and finally my happiness with.
So yes, easily, was one of the best days ever!
382 more to go.