Thursday, December 6, 2018

Confessions of a Prideaholic

Six months ago, I started at my new office here in Wichita. On my first day, my MIC (Manager-in-Charge) was giving me a run-down of the office - a whose who of the staff, mentioning various forecasters who would be good resources for radar, outreach, etc. In that moment, I immediately found myself desiring to have my name added to that list for future run-downs with new staff members. what's the big deal, you might ask. After all, what's wrong with shooting for doing your best and getting credit for it? For me, the problem is my motivation. I don't know where it came from or when it started, but somewhere down the line, I developed the Meteorologist's version of a borderline, superiority complex. When I first joined the National Weather Service (NWS) several years ago, I walked into that office acting like I had it all figured out. Turns out I didn't. Almost four years in, and those pesky thoughts of superiority keep trying to creep back in.

In my short time here at NWS Wichita (ICT), I am once again reminded that I don't know everything, that I'm not the best thing since sliced bread. But, here's the thing. Deep down, I've never actually believed that I know EVERYTHING, and yet if you could read my thoughts, you might think otherwise. The cause seems to be rooted in a poor self-assessment.

I have this tendency to analyze / assess people...their strengths and weaknesses, motivations, etc. There is a part of that that's enjoyable, especially when I am able to help others figure out what may be driving a person to do a certain thing - almost like a detective. But, when it comes to self-assessment, my effective analyzing seems to go out the window at times. On one hand, there are things that I actually do well, but struggle to believe it. On the other hand, there are things that I believe I do well that, in reality, I am not as good at.

Both sides create problems. Option "A" leads to an unrealistic lack of confidence which can cause others to believe I am not as good as I actually am at something. Think about the potential for missed opportunities there. Option "B" leads to an unrealistic surplus of confidence, potentially causing folks to trust me with something that is better suited for someone else. This can also cause me to miss out on opportunities, specifically opportunities to improve.

My self-assessment is the worst where my pride is the strongest. I can quickly say I am not the best fire weather forecaster out there because, frankly, I don't get wrapped up in what others think of my fire weather forecasting abilities, or lack thereof, and it isn't high on my passion list. But, ask me about convection, severe weather, or radar and that's a different ballgame. Those three are big on my passions list and maybe pride is the strongest where passion is the greatest. Passion is a great asset, but with great passion comes great responsibility...a challenge to properly assess myself and others. I say 'and others' because pride can cause me to not only give myself a poor assessment, but also others.

I believe it is always important to strive to do our best, whether it is high on our passion list or not. But, equally as important is the call to give ourselves and others a proper assessment. Be humbly confident in what you are good at, but honest enough to know where you could use some improvement. There are areas where you will, in fact, be better than someone else at something, but don't make that your goal. Instead, find ways to encourage others and help them succeed. Similarly, keep an open mind when people better at you in something come to help you succeed. Or, better yet, go ask someone more knowledgeable than you for guidance.

Being humble in this way and keeping our thoughts from going off the prideful deep end can aid in effective collaboration, improved service, and a stronger, more knowledgeable workforce.

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