I thought dave was being a #@$%! Turns out it was me.

A few years ago I was asked to be part of a progressive team working on a really interesting problem. Someone had noticed my talents and fantastic ideas - obviously.

I started to work with someone who, for the purposes of the this story I will call Dave. Not long after starting to work with Dave it started to feel rather awkward. He would constantly question me and my ideas - it felt like he was constantly trying to undermine me. I couldn’t understand why he was like this. My ideas were great so why was he trying to stop me?

Clearly, Dave was a threat.

After a while I realised that Dave wasn’t a bad person, in fact I quite liked him. Then one day it struck me – what if he was saying these things for a reason? What if I’m not as progressive as I think, I don’t have all the good ideas and actually I hadn’t shown him much respect? It was a moment of slightly chastening self awareness.

From that point I chose to trust him more.

I soon realised he wasn’t saying these things because he wanted to undermine me or
railroad his own ideas, he simply wanted to make our situation better. I now recognise this series of events as our first leaming cycle’ (I can’t think of a better way to describe it). We were in a situation that could be improved, we observed how and we (I) adjusted our (my) behaviour. Crucially, Dave and I thought about this experience and about how we deliberately increase the rate of these cycles.

We found we needed to be entirely honest and open with one another when sharing ideas.

Sometimes we did disagree but that was ok because we could talk it through, and from that
tension something good would come, often better than our original ideas.

We recognised that navigating our work in this way meant we could make decisions more quickly but it would likely feel difficult and awkward a large proportion of the time. We used this discomfort as a sign that things were healthy and on track. Dave put it this way – we needed to be uncomfortable being comfortable.

The trust we had in one another helped me recognise the difference between this ‘constructive
discomfort’ and the discomfort I felt back when I thought I was being undermined and

The other day I saw an info graphic on imposter syndrome from resume.io. In it is a phrase that really resonates... “You expect to know everything and feel ashamed when you don’t”. I now know I don’t have all the good ideas but by building trust with my colleagues I am able to develop resilience to the shame that is normal and ok to feel.




Trust, accountability & humility. High performing environments in technical, highly complex orgs

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Trust, accountability & humility. High performing environments in technical, highly complex orgs

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