In many ways, FIRST is about taking risks, making mistakes, and learning lessons the hard way. **What is the hardest non-engineering lesson that you learned this year? ** Feel free to elaborate on HOW you learned it if you want.
That I’m not the best suited one for my job on my team anymore, and that’s okay.
For the past 5 years I’ve been the head of our strategy team, and this year one of my alums came back as my junior mentor/mentor in training on the strategy team. Watching him work, I realized that he’s better at this than me. This was a very difficult pill to swallow at first, as I felt that this meant that I was failing as a mentor. It’s hard to admit that this strategy team that I built from nothing to what it is today has outgrown me, that there is a “new mentor on the block” that is better suited to lead the team into the future.
However over a long period of time (much longer than it should have taken) I have now realized that it’s okay to hand off the torch to someone better suited for a job. It’s part of life. I’m incredibly proud of him, and having watched him grow from his freshman year of high school to now has been absolutely amazing. I love him like a little brother, and I’ll be honored to defer to his judgment in the years to come.
Considering that most of what I do for the team is non-engineering and the fact that I – like anyone else – make a lot of mistakes, I could go on and on about this question. I’ll stick to only one to keep it short, however.
During the final week of the build season, I was bogged down with the need to film and edit a reveal video, a chairman’s video, and the sixth episode of KnightVlogger. I accomplished the first two rather well, but the latter I made (what I considered) an executive decision to discontinue the series, although keep producing similar content. It made sense in my mind time-wise and quality-wise, I just didn’t consult the opinions of anyone on the team which was a pretty bad blunder on my part. While I felt the backlash I received a little unwarranted, through good communication we were able to agree on what to do moving forward. We took the video down and restructured our YouTube channel plan, which I think was a tremendously better outcome than I had foreseen. We still need to upload an update on what changes and plans we have, but it’s comforting to at least know what we plan to do moving forward.
That’s the mistake and solution more or less, without getting into too many details. Basically, you can never have too much communication, so always share your concerns, ideas, and plans with others before making a final decision.
I learned that school takes priority over robotics.
I started off the year strong, but build season hit and I felt that I had to show up to as many practices as I possibly could (every day except Wednesday). I wasn’t paying attention to my homework at all, so my grades started slipping, slipping, slipping until I was placed on academic probation. It sucked not being able to travel with the team. I hope to not make the same mistake next year, and I am trying to figure out how to fix it.
Btw, if anyone has school advice, I would love to hear it!
I see this as quite the opposite. When the student surpasses the mentor who has put in so much time and effort, it means the mentor has achieved the goals of this program. I hope in time you can view your success in this way.
Don’t stand in front of (or behind) a robot when it is enabled. (I was holding the Ethernet tether by the robot and the driver accidentally reversed into me. Don’t worry, it had the bumpers on and was only about 1-1.5 feet away from me, so it didn’t have time to accelerate and didn’t hurt very much. Still. Be careful.)
To never take anything personally. The team didn’t go with your design/idea/strategy/whatever? That’s totally fine. I think learning to not take anything personally in a business and professional setting is a valuable lesson. It’s not because the team is against you, and in fact you should embrace the fact that you’re surrounded by people who are intelligent in that field, and can come up with amazing ideas.
This is something I learned when I was a student on 2085, and is one of my favorite life lessons.
Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned come from this thread I made in 2009. http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76907
Ignore the posts near the end - the thread went off on a tangent somehow
In my next paragraph I mentioned that my thinking has changed since then. It was a silly way of thinking on my part, I’ve just never had that moment where the student becomes the master and I didn’t quite know how to feel about it. But I’m so incredibly proud of him and all the hard work he has put in this year.
This is very wise insight and is one of the tenets of a little book called “The Four Agreements.” Personally I have to re-learn this all the time. It is hard.
Some great lessons here.
For me I echo the comment someone made above that I’m not necessarily the best person for the (any) job, and I’m learning to embrace that.
I could, if needed, step into a variety of roles on my team, as a software mentor, business mentor, pit crew, and so on. Though I only have one prior year of FRC mentoring, I have lots of experience from a variety of past projects that would benefit the team. I’ve worked with students in other roles, I’ve helped run other non-profits, I’ve done marketing, fundraising, promotions, merchandise, websites, social media, video production.
“If needed” is the operative word. We have been lucky to have lots of mentors, parents, and students who want to step into these roles. It’s tempting for me to want to inject my opinion on basically everything the team does that overlaps my skill set. I’ve had to remind myself that others are just as capable, if not more so, and to let them do their thing. It doesn’t always end up looking exactly like how I’d envision it, but if the team is happy, then so am I! There’s never just one right answer.
The hardest personal lesson I learned this season…
I’ve never wanted to be a teacher. Both of my parents were teachers. They weren’t miserable and both enjoyed what they did but I never wanted to be a teacher. I still don’t want to be a teacher. To be clear, I have tons of respect for teachers and I think the world of anyone who gives up what they do. I just don’t want to be one.
This was the year I learned that I am one. It turns out mentors are teachers. Oops.
What’s more aggravating to me is that this is the year that I finally learned what I want to teach my students. I don’t actually want to teach them about science or math. I don’t care if they learn engineering skills from me. I learned this year that the thing I want to teach is almost impossible to teach someone. I want my students to learn passion. I want them to care so much about what they are doing that they infect other people with it… be that FRC or anything else.
So yeah… that’s been an eye-opener for me this year.
The hardest thing I learned this season is that things don’t always go your way.
Our team this year was incredible and we built a very high-quality robot. I felt great about our performance as we placed very highly at our events preceding championships. While we were one of the best robots at our events we didn’t win and only were finalists at one of our three events.
I hoped to go to championships and do fairly well. Unfortunately during our last match in semifinals, we lost communication and drove onto the alliance wall. This was an extremely unlucky way to lose a match that we were predicted to win. One of our seniors was very upset because he couldn’t do anything in his last match driving. We also had some tough luck with refereeing, but in the end, we built a great robot and had lots of fun as a team. I learned that sometimes things just don’t work out and are out of our control. I also learned that along with experience and a great robot it requires some luck to do well at competitions. It is important to understand this and move on and keep a positive attitude after things like this happen.
Later on during Einsteins we were cheering and finally had our spirits back. :]
I’ve learned to not post on Cheif Delphi without checking all of my information first.
If you spend too much time focusing on not getting what you want, you risk ignoring the times when you got what you needed.
We haven’t achieved the victories we want as a program and I want as an alum and coach, but we have found success along the way.
You know what, I take my previous lesson back. That was still an important lesson to me but it’s not the most important.
The most important was a combination of what you’ve posted – and a caveat. It’s good to remember that we’re not here to build robots. We’re here to build students. The caveat is that it takes time, and not every student will get there at the same time, or even get there at all. And that’s OK. Some change seems overnight. Others will take far longer. Our job is to be passionate. The rest isn’t up to us.
The hardest thing for me is learning that even if you put all your effort in you cant win everything
I learned that I actually have the capacity to be a leader - I was offered the Lead queuing position at one of the district events and chose to take it. and then realized I was woefully unprepared for the part where I actually had to organize all of the Queuing at the event :v . The entire queuing team except for me were competely new to queuing too. Fortunately things ended up going smoothly, in no small part thanks to the rest of the team being very competent. It ended up being a lot of learning while doing, and a fun but difficult experience for me, something I look forward to doing again at some point. respect your volunteers kiddos, our jobs ain’t easy
also, it’s really strange to me to be looked at as an authority figure by kids that could actually be as old as me
I need to look at what I can realistically do and only do that.
As a college mentor of my former team, one of the hardest things that I have had to learn to do is distance myself from my students and constantly remind myself that I am no longer on the team as a student and that I am now an “adult.”