Don’t Bother Fitting In

Keep your Pride Instead

A dear friend of mine started a new job and started to worry about her performance within the first few weeks. She is fairly new to project management, but is one of the brightest minds, and quickest learners I have ever encountered. I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs about how wonderful she is, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I could not believe anyone could feel like her performance was anything other than stellar. So who made her feel this way? The other Project Managers.

She was being ostracized for doing “too much” and working harder than the other PMs. She was truly feeling like she misunderstood the job and should just follow their example. I have also faced this struggle, and I’ve seen other great people go through it. Luckily, I had a lot of coaching from family in the form of “NOONE IN THIS FAMILY DOES ANYTHING HALF-ASSED!” Also, I admire people like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I loved the part in Tina Fey’s book Bossypants where she recounts Jimmy Fallon saying to Amy Poehler, “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it” and she replies “I don’t f*cking care if you like it.” 

I try and be a little gentler in my coaching, so I asked her a question. Do you want to be liked by them, or do you want to be liked by you? Before emulating them, she needed to figure out a couple things. First, and most importantly, would she be proud of herself everyday? Second, does she know if others in the company respect them? I reminded her that she was not hired by these other PMs nor is she being evaluated by them.

Make sure to gain respect from the most important people – yourself and hopefully your family. Maybe Tina Fey and Amy Poehler too. If you can not stay true to your own values AND be respected by your colleagues, the job may not be a good fit for you.

A few months have passed and she is killing it at this job. The other PMs are not her best friends (surprise), but her team adores her and she is proud of her accomplishments.

UPDATE: A few more months have passed and there was a round of lay offs. Guess which PMs lost their positions and guess who got promoted.

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