I was riding high in 2012. My career was in full-throttle and my family life was strong. My mother was successfully beating pancreatic cancer. At work, my business was strong and exceeding all goals. My organization chose me and one other person to pilot a new executive level training program for high potential managers. What made this accomplishment even sweeter was that I would be placed on a team with other leaders and given a project to present to our Executive Leadership team that included our CEO. I could feel a promotion coming my way.
Then it happened. In 2013, my life completely derailed. My husband and I sold our home and moved in with my mother to help her with her bills when her cancer returned. After successful surgery to remove the tumor, my mother declared herself cured. She let us know that she did not need our help, we needed to leave. At the same time, my career derailed in spectacular fashion. My organization was no longer satisfied with my performance and my relationship with my mother was down the drain (again).
I decided that something had to change. If I wanted to stay with this organization and rebuild my relationship with my mom, I needed to figure out how to recover—and fast!
It took me two years to figure it out.
My “aha” moment came when a colleague of mine was discussing an issue about another manager. His words were “she means well but her intent doesn’t match her impact.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. No wonder my career derailed and my relationship with my mom was in shambles. I had never viewed myself from the outside. I did not understand the way other people saw me. I didn’t understand that I needed to flex my style to help others understand that I did care about them and their feelings. My intent did not match my impact.
My two-year journey and work with self-awareness was eye-opening. I learned that although I was a strong introvert, my well-practiced, but inauthentic, extroverted style put people off. People who assumed I was open and friendly were shocked when I shared few details about my life or my thought processes. This fact coupled with my low threshold for the emotional intelligence cue of social awareness did not endear me to my team, my peers, or my mother.
Luckily, I was at my rock bottom and had decided to listen more to those around me. Once I was able to drop the feeling that I was being attacked and victimized, I was able to hear that people around me, including my mother, were saying, “understand how your words and actions are affecting me.” The key to building relationships, influencing others, and harmony in your relationships with other people requires that you understand how you fill space in the world.
Self-awareness was my game changer.