I’ve been accused of being a narcissist before. Not in those exact words, but I will never forget the conversation. I was 25 and a good friend of mine and I were talking. She finally said (in a rare pause of my banter), “Natalie, you always talk about you and never ask about me.” Wow, that one hit hard and I felt guilty and ashamed. I had never thought about it before. I wondered where my baby-boomer parents had gone wrong in raising me as a millennial snowflake (who was nothing but extraordinary) who didn’t know the true definition of meaningful discourse. Ever since then, I’ve put a concerted effort into making sure that I ask the other person I’m talking to questions about themselves. It’s a constant reminder in my awkward conversational brain – “ask them about their day, weekend, year…yeah—that’s perfect!” We often run into a narcissism problem in product development, too, and it can stem from fear and shame.
“It was the perfect storm.” “That’s just the way things are here.” “That won’t work for us; we’re too different.” “It’s a catch-22.” “There’s too much history.” If you are hearing these phrases at your organization, chances are it may be suffering from learned helplessness. What is learned helplessness you ask? It’s basically when we have difficulty both identifying and unlearning bad habits. We can no longer see anything as an opportunity for change. We come up with reasons for why something can’t or isn’t working instead of coming up with ways it could work. We (sometimes) unknowingly derail any true progress because of the intrinsic helplessness we feel after being shut down so many times. We just cannot see a way out of this vicious spiral.
Feedback is great. Feedback is a gift. Yeah, yeah. I’m an Agile coach. Giving feedback to teams, managers, leadership, and organization is my job. But hey, I’m sorry that I can’t always give it to you immediately. It doesn’t exactly work that way.
Busy. I’m busy. I’m too busy. I don’t have time to think – hell, I barely have time to sleep. Between work commitments, friend commitments, relationship commitments, and building my own brand, I am left with little time for myself. I’ve gotten into a pattern of trying to make every second add value (work-type value). What does it turn into? Burn out and ineffectiveness, and that is not what anyone wants or needs.