I know we are in the middle of build season. And before you ask how I found the time to think about this, much less write about it. I am waiting for my teams teaser to finish rendering.
Back on track.
So I just had a thought. My head coach decided to hold a robot meeting this Saturday just after a huge ice storm. Both his student leaders were unable to make it. Along with the majority of the team. Yet he decided to hold this meeting regardless. I am one of these team leaders. I was just talking to one of the 3 students who actually showed up. They were able to finish the prototype kicker during this meeting. Don’t get me wrong. I am very excited about this. But my pride has been damaged. I keep thinking “Am I not president of this team? Is it really all that necessary for me to even show up? Why do I even need to go if they are capable of doing fine without me? Apparently I am not a vital member of this team regardless of the fact that I do countless hours of CAD during the off-season in order to be able to do that CAD now.” But while I am thinking this. I also think… This is good.
I say this because it shows that I have been able to lead this team well enough to where even when I am not there, they know what they are doing. They are still able to do their work. And do it well. I know it seems like I am going around spreading dirty laundry. And in a sense, I guess you could say I am, but here is the heart of what I am saying.
Pride is a huge thing for engineers. They always want their idea chosen. It will never fail, this competition shows us this. What we as engineers, no, the human race, need to do, is swallow our pride. Pride causes wars, pride causes deaths, pride causes poverty. It causes a disruption in the society. This world has begun to live with pride surrounding it. And we accept it. Our children get in fights at school due to pride. Adults lose jobs as a result of pride. Pride has corrupted our society.
We need to learn to swallow our pride. To bend over and help others. To join together, to listen to each other. To swallow our pride and admit that someone else has a better idea. To understand that someone can do just fine without you. To be reasonable and not explode when someone makes a fool out of you. It is not worth it to lose your temper. It will only make matters worse.
We as a nation, as the human race, need to learn to clasp together and succeed. For as one, we are weak, but joined together we can do anything. The limitations are removed.
One of the things that has always, in my mind, separated a good team member from a great team member, or a good engineer from a great engineer, is the ability to defend and fight for a design choice without becoming attached to it. Those that can argue its merits, but then rest comfortably when it’s taken off the table make some of the best collaborative partners for any team.
I had/have a teammate who shall remain nameless (he doesn’t have a Chief Delphi account) who I’m certain will be a brilliant designer someday. He’s a savant, I swear. But his one flaw, his one problem as an engineer-in-training, is that he becomes obsessed with his own ideas. When problems arise, he’ll stack more and more mechanism onto the idea to “fix” them in a desperate attempt to save it, or he’ll discount a problem he initially thought was important to solve as unimportant. It’s a hurdle for him, but it’s something he’ll have to work past. He basically has too much pride.
Essentially, I agree, pride is something you must swallow in the design process. You need to finish the project first. At that point, if you meet your criteria, you can indulge. The project wouldn’t have happened like it did without you, even if you don’t think so. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Be proud of the result, not of the shape of the path.
Hopefully you can take pride in the fact that you have trained them so well they can carry on without you. In the workplace there are two doomsday scenarios: “If Gary should get hit by a bus …” or “If Gary wins the lottery and quits tomorrow …” I had a modification on that when I accepted early retirement from Chrysler. My last day was Wednesday before Thanksgiving (2008); on Monday morning I got a phone call at home. “EPA is thinking about changing X, how would we do that?”
Teams, as much as businesses, need to plan for the future and plan for succession as much as success. Your experience here could be the foundation for a CA or KPCB Entrepreneurship Award.
I will be sure to remember that this season. This is my first year as team captain. I am the successor of the only team captain we ever had, he was captain of the FIRST team for 2 years, and captain of the BEST team for 4 years. (or was it 5…) Choosing this years team captain was not a fun process, and a change of leadership is never a fun cycle.
I’ve read your entire post several times. What I’m thinking is that the experience that you’ve had, encouraged a lot of thinking on your part, and you have shared some of your thinking with us here in ChiefDelphi. I’d like to comment on a few of your statements without criticizing your thoughts, but hoping that you continue to explore them and expand them as you continue to develop as a leader.
The quote from your post that I’ve included in mine, seems to focus on pride as a source of many of our society’s troubles and woes. I’m not so sure that it is pride. I think greed, narrow-minded thinking, avarice, selfishness, short-sightedness, and ignorance all play very strong roles in why we are where we are. I think that pride, if not kept in perspective - in check, so to speak - can lead to arrogance and arrogance can lead to a feeling of superiority which can lead to a sense of elitism.
Regarding what happened during the bad weather that affected your team and the conclusion that you came to. What I would add is that you can take a great deal of pride in the fact that members of your team found a way to make the day productive, knowing full well that the leadership could not make it, but that work needed to be done.
Part of the wisdom that goes with leadership is learning to count on and trust your teammates and those you work with. It takes time to build that trust, and it take moments such as the one you’ve described, to help build it. There are many quotes and sayings that we can think of in times like those. One of my favorites is - when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It takes nothing away from the leadership - it helps define it and strengthen it by revealing the strength, courage, tenacity, and flexibility of the team. I think there is a place for pride in ourselves and in our teams. There is a place for pride in our lives and in our society. It just needs to be kept in perspective and in check, in order to be beneficial and stay healthy.
Thank you for starting this thread, Rion,
Over the past little while, I have begun to exercise my leadership side. Now, instead of wanting to do everything myself, I want to teach others how to do it. I feel that I shouldn’t do much work at all on the robot, and that my job is only to teach others how to build the robot. I then feel proud and happy when the team builds the robot and it works.
My leadership skills are limited to ends, means are not my schtick, I seperate my pride from my work, and just do what makes the most sense. Probably not the best strategy, but it’s like that, and that’s the way it is.
I think that there are two main types of pride. The (bad) pride that comes before a fall, and the (good) pride a mother feels when her child takes his first steps. The “good” type of pride is just that-good. It will always be good. While the bad type can never be good and leads to local and global disasters. Bad Pride for one’s nation causes war, while the good type causes its’ citizens to represent their nation every day in thought, word, and deed.
PS thanks for starting this thread, I think that it is a good conversation to have on CD.
It has indeed made me think a lot, and I am seeing it from all view points at the moment. Mentors, students, and my own.
Thank you for this incite. I agree with many of the things that you have said. Pride does have it’s place, this is entirely true. And the list of things that also cause grief. I agree 100%, but I feel (in my own mind) that pride is behind almost everyone of those.
I do apologize for this short response, I don’t know much what to say. But I can say this. I will be thinking very deep about everything you have said, and see how I can use it to better myself, and those around me.
I know exactly what you mean. I go to a pre-engineering academy. And while I know that everyone there is just as smart as me. I also know that not all of them have been raised in a house like mine. Not every one there will know how to use a band-saw, or how to build something on the fly. It’s for this reason that I typically sit back during the group projects and let the others work. I tend to sit back and help with the design of things. (Such as a marble sorter.) When I am needed, I step forward, get the job done, then back off again.
I advise you to continue practicing your leadership skills. They come in handy a lot, I have learned this sense I joined robotics. I also advise you to learn politics. Not congress style, classroom style. When to say something, when not to. Is the fight worth fighting? Do you need to pull someone aside and talk to them? (I did this with a mentor who never did anything but yell at the students. It was completely rude in every way. I simply told him how I saw it and asked him what I was doing to deserve it. His reasons was “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to. It’s who I am, and I will try and be kinder.” Ever sense then he has treated people with a lot more respect. ) These are things that I am beginning to learn.
Good luck with honing your leadership skills!
I agree, and I really like the way the you stated that… Ever sense I have joined this robotics team, my Good pride has been growing a lot. I had never completely realized how smart I am. I am able to look at something and understand how it works. I can look at a chassis and know where the possible breaking points would be. (No, not as good as the CAD program can, but decently. ) I can design quick fixes on the fly. And having just joined this team last year, meaning Lunacy was my first year. And to be assigned Electrical team captain due to how well I did on BEST that season. And this being my second year on the team, I am already Team Captain. I am very prideful have done all of this. But I am still humble, and very grateful, seeing as it was a team election that placed me here.
I say all of that for one reason. All of that pride can quickly, with one bad thought, be turned into Bad pride. I keep it in check as much as possible. I will say that it is never an easy thing to do. And I have learned that it is easier to do the more you depend on others. The more you ask others for help, the easier it is to understand that you alone are not the sole member. You still rely on others. This helps me the remember that I am not the only smart person on this team. In fact. Compared to the others. I am not even all that smart.