So, I recently took a new role at work. One of the reasons I took the position was because it had severe challenges. My predecessors had managed to stay in the role for only one year – so far, four people have come and gone in the last four years. It remains to be seen how long my term will be.

Throughout my career so far – I have always wanted a role that would be challenging, like, you know, the underdog story. And this role seemed too good to be true from that perspective. And what’s life if you don’t live all aspects, right? So, I took a plunge, knowing fully well that this was not a joy ride.

Take Risks: If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.

I have been in the role for about four weeks, and here’s what I found fascinating. Most of the people I met, like my peers or stakeholders, were dying to tell me about my business partners and how difficult they are to work with. And to be honest, I had a couple of leaders tell me that’s not the case. When I came into the role, one of my tasks was building relationships across all stakeholder levels. And I cannot do that if I already have a story in my head. As the saying goes – you find evidence for the story you believe in.

So, as people told me their side of the story, I would say to them – that I am going by the ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ proverb. They would nod, but at the same time, there was the realization that I would not reinforce their story. And you will be surprised how disappointed people are. They come in expecting a b****-fest, and I am not only NOT joining in but telling them I will form my own opinion. One would think I am robbing them of their birthright – I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.

And that is awkward because, much to my chagrin, I have realized that people bond over complaining. I would give in and vent with them in the past, but this time, I decided not to do that. Because – to make an authentic change, I cannot bad-mouth people when I am trying to mend relationships.

And from my experience, nobody is so far gone that you have to replace them. From my interactions so far, I haven’t found anything that reinforces the stories I have heard. In fact, I enjoy hanging out with a couple of the so-called difficult stakeholders. And the issues I found are typical issues that happen between people who work together. So, why is my story so different from others around me?

Firstly, herd mentality. Maybe in the past, something did happen that resulted in this perception – perhaps a couple of other incidents also happened. People tell their friends who, without realizing it, make it their own story and before they know it has turned into a full-blown reality.

Albert Einstein: Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.

Second, working with people is hard. They will not do what you want them to do when they want them to and how you want them to do things. Let me ask you this – how easy or difficult has it been for you to change yourself? How do you behave when somebody tells you to do something without understanding your side of the story? Right – so is it fair for you to expect what you are incapable of from others? Sometimes, it takes months or years for people to be understood before they can start understanding you. And most people find it easier to blame people instead of working on themselves.

The next question I get asked is, why don’t they understand me first? Why do I have to be the one to understand them? The answer to that is – it does not matter. The minute you change, they change. And maybe that’s why the world that I live in is different from the world other people live in. And I prefer the world based on my experience where people are good to believe in someone else’s version of the world where they are not doing good. And when things arise, you deal with them without acting from a pre-formed judgment.

Whose world are you living in?

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