I do not believe that you walk into a career and claim you want to lead. Well in my experience it has never happened that way for me. I remember starting my job in a technology department and I felt afraid, lost and alone. I think I was more excited having my own computer and desk to work from. Where I came from, we did not have that luxury. There was no user manual on how I start this new journey in technology. I was given manuals to read on things I have never heard of, introduced to so many people which at the end of the day I forgot each and everyone’s names. The manuals I was handed to read stretched over my head, and I have to say that up till today I still do not know what was in those manuals. There I was dumbfounded by everyone rushing to get things done and not to mention the language everyone was speaking.
This shock to my system left me numb and scared.
A few days later I decided to just sit and observe, listen with intent, and make notes of everything I am told or read. I kept my own little blue book of information and gathered as much information I could. Eventually, a few weeks later I attended a workshop and realised that my notes in my blue book is what actually what everyone is saying it is the same lyrics. I did what I thought at the time was the silliest thing to do and bravely I raised my hand to get some attention. I did this because I respected the conversation that is happening, but I needed to know more. My patience was very low and besides, I could not hold up my hand anymore, I stood up and requested to ask a question. The room went quiet and all eyes were on me, I went white in my face, but bravely took my notebook and asked my question. The room went silent and I sat down. “Excellent question,” said the Senior Analyst, and followed this comment with “this is the type of questions we need the developers to answer”. As the meeting adjourned all I wanted to do is run away but I was stopped by some of the developers. Even though earlier that week I was introduced to them no one knew my name. all they knew is a little girl walked into a meeting and caused disruption. This was not the intent, but somehow that day I got the opportunity to ask all my questions. The team later that week requested I work on the project and draw up the user experience journey. I did not lead the team, but I was given the platform to guide a team of developers through the project. They depended on me to get them through the hurdles of which they did not understand, they knew code I knew user experience. This is where my journey as a leader started.
If I were not daring enough to be brave, I would have still been waiting for the opportunity to ask my questions.
When an opportunity knocks on your door and it feels daunting and scary take a moment to observe and look for familiarity in the environment. Prepare yourself to be critiqued but be brave and seize the moment.
by Farieda Mayet
“Expect change. Analyse the landscape. Take the opportunities. Stop being the chess piece; become the player. It’s your move.”