I had my semi-annual performance review with my supervisor recently and, while it wasn’t meant to result in a pay bump or promotion, I felt like I walked away with more confidence in my abilities and what I need to improve on before moving forward (which I don’t think I could have said before the meeting). If you’re not having regular check-ins like this with your manager, I would highly encourage it.
One of the things that stuck with me the most from our conversation is the notion of choosing to go left when the normal reaction is to go right. Like being right-handed, doing things with the other hand is uncomfortable and unusual. However, becoming ambidextrous can be a cool skill. Similarly, for me Going Right is an instinct that I default to when things don’t go well. Going Right too often involves taking all the blame on myself, focusing on what went wrong and ultimately stewing on how the bad situation ended up so bad. I think Going Right can be a result of perfectionism combined with being pretty good at a lot of things which turns into never hearing a lot of criticism (constructive or otherwise) – not a good thing.
Going Left, however, is something my supervisor is pushing to do every time my instinct is to Go Right. Going Left means focusing on what needs to be done to make the situation right. Even though a mistake may have been made, chance are you can’t go back in time and change it (no matter how much you think wallowing in blame might accomplish that), so what are you going to do instead?
This doesn’t have to be the Going Right/Going Left combination for everyone. What is your basic instinct that you want to rebel against? Maybe Going Right for you is keeping your head down in meetings when you should Go Left and share your opinions and ideas. Maybe Going Right is falling into the trap of working with the same people over and over again instead of Going Left and working with a new team to gain fresh perspective.
Whatever it is, every once in a while, I’d encourage you to Go Left when you really want to Go Right — because all of us need to try going in a different direction sometimes.